Australia get unassailable 2-0 series lead over New Zealand

Sports Sunday 29/December/2019 16:58 PM
By: Times News Service
Australia get unassailable 2-0 series lead over New Zealand

Melbourne: Melbourne: Tom Blundell stood tall with a defiant century in Melbourne, but another disappointing New Zealand batting performance overall confirmed an unassailable 2-0 series lead for Australia.
Blundell made 121 of New Zealand’s 240/9 on the fourth day at the MCG on Sunday, December 29. But, chasing an improbable target of 488 – or at least looking to survive almost two days – only three other visiting batsmen got into double figures, and nobody else made more than 35.
James Pattinson’s opening burst to reduce New Zealand to 35/3 in the 12th over proved difficult to recover from. With Nathan Lyon running through the middle order, Australia sealed a 247-run win in the final session to claim the three-match series in the second Test.
All of Pattinson’s three wickets for the innings came in his first two overs. He had Tom Latham edging to a diving Tim Paine, and then switched ends to send back Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor in quick succession.
Rapped on his pads while shuffling across, Williamson reviewed, but DRS showed it nicking leg stump and the umpire’s call stood. Four balls later, Taylor chopped on onto his stumps.
Lyon, who finished with 4/81, got two crucial breakthroughs to end Blundell’s half-century stands for the fourth and fifth wickets with Henry Nicholls and BJ Watling. While Nicholls was expertly stumped by Paine right after taking Lyon for a straight six, Watling’s inside edge to one pitching outside off missed the stumps and flew to David Warner in leg slip.
Blundell, who had survived an appeal for lbw in the first over when on 0, and had a decision against him overturned on review when on 90, did well to bring up his second Test century in just his third Test. It was also his first as an opener, and the first by a New Zealander in Tests at the MCG.
When Colin de Grandhomme came out with attack on his mind and paid for it, and Mitchell Santner was caught behind, both off Lyon, there was some doubt if the opener could indeed get to the three-figure mark. However, a single to mid-on took him there, much to the delight of the considerable Black Caps contingent at the stadium.
With 15 fours in his knock, he showed the rest of his team just how to take on this Australian attack. He was the last man to fall, caught at mid-on by Lyon, off Marnus Labuschagne. With Trent Boult, who fractured his hand in the first innings, unable to bat, that brought the match to an end.
Australia were rarely on the back foot in this Boxing Day Test. Having started the day 456 runs ahead and with six wickets in hand, they batted for 9.2 overs in the morning, adding another 31 runs to declare on 168/5.
The declaration came right after Neil Wagner had Travis Head bowled to end a fifth-wicket stand of 58 with Matthew Wade.
Travis Head, who had struck a defining century in their first-innings 467, was declared Player of the Match.