Australia take the series with a day left in the Boxing Day Test

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29 Dec 2019 | 08:49 AM
authorShubh Aggarwal

Australia take the series with a day left in the Boxing Day Test

Tom Blundell's courageous ton went in vain



Nathan Lyon's four wickets after James Pattinson three-wicket haul at the the stroke of lunch helped as Australia thrash New Zealand by 247 runs to win the second Test at Melbourne. The victory gave them an assailable lead 2-0 lead in the series.

Opener Tom Blundell became the first Kiwi to score a Test hundred at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground but his innings was always going to be futile once Pattinson has ripped through their top order during the last half an hour of the morning session reducing the to 38 for three. 

But some fighting partnerships spearheaded by Blundell delayed the inevitable until Lyon worked his magic. Blundell was last man out for a gutsy 121 - his second Test century and his first for two years - as New Zealand were dismissed for 240 with Trent Boult not batting after fracturing his hand in the first innings. 

It was the second heaviest defeat for the Black Caps, who lost by 296 runs in Perth and will be playing for pride only in the final Test at Sydney later this week.

"It's very pleasing. I thought the way we went about this Test from the moment we lost the toss was outstanding," said Australia captain Tim Paine. 

"I thought our batters applied themselves superbly on day one and made it easy for Travis (Head) and I on the second day to set up a big total."

It was Head's first innings century and Paine's quick-fire 79 that took the Test out of New Zealand's reach after captain Kane Williamson's bold decision to bowl after winning the toss. Head was adjudged man-of-the-match for his 114 which propelled Australia to 467 in the first innings. 

No team had ever chased down more than 418 in Test history, though the record was set against Australia by the West Indies in Antigua in 2003. 

"I felt like there was enough in the surface to bowl first," said Williamson justifying his decision to bowl first. 

"It was obviously very important for us to be on top of our game and the surface did offer some sideways movement and swing. But credit to Australia for getting through that first session and putting 400 on the board. They've got a fantastic attack with pace and bounce but their accuracy stood apart and they did seem to get more out of that surface."

Pattinson, playing for the injured Josh Hazlewood, did the early damage. New Zealand had reached 32-0 when he snared the key wickets of Tom Latham, batting linchpin Williamson and the experienced Ross Taylor for three just runs. The three wickets came in a space of 21 balls breaking the back of New Zealand's batting in a daunting run chase. 

Latham, scorer of a dogged 50 in New Zealand's 148 first innings, fell for eight when he edged a thunderous delivery to the diving Paine. Williamson soon followed without scoring, lbw after unsuccessfully reviewing the umpire's original decision. Taylor didn't fare much better, dragging onto his middle stump to leave Pattinson with figures of 3-5 at lunch off two overs.

Henry Nicholls was the only wicket to fall between lunch and tea, cleverly stumped for 33 by Paine off Lyon just one ball after he smashed the spinner for six.

Blundell, in only his third Test, and BJ Watling put on 72 before Lyon finally broke their dangerous partnership, tempting an outside edge from the New Zealand wicketkeeper that flew to David Warner at slip and he was gone for 22.

The off-spinner then mopped up Colin de Grandhomme and Mitchell Santner before Tim Southee was run out in a horror mix-up, with Blundell swinging his bat before he was caught by Lyon off Marnus Labuschagne.

Paine earlier declared Australia's second innings on 168 for five after Head was bowled by Neil Wagner for 28. Matthew Wade was unbeaten on 30 with Wagner taking 3-50. They had resumed at 137 for four stretching their lead to 487. 

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Thomas Ackland BlundellJames Lee PattinsonNathan Michael LyonAustraliaNew Zealand

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