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Ravindra’s nerveless fifty, reckless AUS batting, Williamson’s rare failure & more

article_imageTALKING POINTS
Last updated on 02 Mar 2024 | 06:07 AM
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Ravindra’s nerveless fifty, reckless AUS batting, Williamson’s rare failure & more

Here are the key Talking Points from Day 3 of the first Test between Australia and New Zealand

New Zealand leak costly runs to Nathan Lyon

Unlike the first innings, where they lost the plot against the tail-enders, New Zealand wrapped up Australia’s innings swiftly on Day 3, with the last three Australian wickets only adding 15 runs.

However, the Kiwis still leaked costly runs, allowing Nathan Lyon to score 41 runs in the second innings. Lyon, who was put down on the final ball of Day 2, began Day 3 on 6*. The visitors, at the start of the day, were 13/2. Lyon survived the initial couple of overs and then went on a boundary-hitting spree. In all, the 36-year-old ended up hitting six boundaries, and stitched together a 49-run stand with Usman Khawaja to frustrate the Kiwis early in the day. 

READ: No fifty? No problem — Gazza is GOATing it with both bat and ball

New Zealand, on the day, were guilty of bowling too wide to Lyon, not exploiting the weakness he has in front of the stumps. 

Reckless batting results in Australia’s downfall

Australia were unable to make the most of the 204-run first innings lead as they got bowled out for 164 in the second innings, in just 51.1 overs. Without question, New Zealand put up a much more efficient bowling performance, but reckless batting is what led to the Kangaroos’ downfall on Day 3.

After Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne perished playing loose strokes late on Day 2, Khawaja was the first one to throw away his wicket on Day 3, getting stumped trying to hit Glenn Phillips out of the ground. 

Travis Head then followed suit, perishing against the run of play attempting a slog. At 127/4, a nice little partnership was developing between Head and Cameron Green but the southpaw threw it away to open the door for the Kiwis.

Mitch Marsh then departed for a golden duck, after which Alex Carey fell to the trap laid right in front of his eyes, finding the hands of Tim Southee at short cover, trying to take Phillips on. 

READ: Three-dimensional Glenn Phillips’ stupendous spell lights up Wellington

A tinge of complacency about the way Australia went about their business on Day 3, with the bat in hand. That has now put their bowlers in a slight spot of bother. 

Kane Williamson’s golden streak at home comes to an end 

Heading into this first Test in Wellington, Kane Williamson had scored at least one ton in each of his last five home Tests. In fact, he entered this Test having notched up 6 tons across his last 5 Tests at home.

But the golden run came to a halt on Day 3 as he perished for 9 on the back of the duck he scored in the first innings.

Williamson walked out to bat at an awkward time, with Lyon turning the new ball sharply. He negated Lyon’s threat when the off-spinner bowled from over the wicket, but perished as soon as the 36-year-old changed his angle to ‘round the wicket. The dismissal itself proved to be a tame one as Williamson hit one straight into the hands of Smith at leg-slip.

The 33-year-old will have a point to prove in the second Test in Christchurch. His last six scores against Australia in Tests read 9, 0, 0, 9, 14 & 34. 

Rachin Ravindra shows his class to keep New Zealand in the contest

At 35/2 with the ball turning square, with Lyon working his magic, Rachin Ravindra would have been excused had he departed early. Ravindra, it is worth noting, had only played five Tests heading into this encounter, and in general there’s no shame in getting run over by a rampant Lyon on a wicket that’s spinning.

But keen to battle following a disappointing duck in the first innings, Ravindra dug deep and almost single-handedly kept New Zealand’s innings intact on the third day.

At the 50-over World Cup, Ravindra showcased his skills against spin, averaging 141 against the slower bowlers while striking at 117.99. However, facing and playing quality spin at the Test level is a whole different challenge altogether.

But the 24-year-old was up to the challenge — he played spin (in particular Lyon) as well as any batter did on Day 3 to keep the Aussies at bay.

Lyon was constantly probing Ravindra, and desperately tried to break through, but the left-hander did not budge. He used the late cut to great effect to both tackle the turn, and tackle the threat of the off-spinner.

He faced 53 balls of Lyon and registered a control percentage of 79.2%, which was the best among all New Zealand batters against the off-spinner on Day 3.

369 is a long, long way away. But for the hosts to get anywhere close to the target, they’ll need Ravindra to carry on and post a mammoth ton on Day 4. 

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