Sport Cricket Smith, Burns centuries put Australia on top

Smith, Burns centuries put Australia on top

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Steve Smith and Joe Burns crafted centuries, broke records and dominated day two in Christchurch, turning the second trans-Tasman Test on its head.

Australia were 4-363 at stumps on Sunday, trailing New Zealand by seven runs and boasting high hopes of regaining the No.1 Test ranking.

The tourists resumed on 1-57 then slipped to 2-67 after Usman Khawaja was out edging in the fourth over of the day.

McCullum blasts fastest ever Test century

What followed was leadership personified from Smith and desperate determination from Burns, who ended any lingering debate about his place in the XI.

Burns’ 170 represented the highest score by an Australian opener in NZ, while the 14th ton of Smith’s 41-Test career was one of great courage given he was struck on the helmet.

Joe Burns pulls on his way to a third Test ton in Christchurch. Photo: Getty

Smith scored 138, having hit the deck on 78 when he was crunched by a bouncer from Neil Wagner in the final over before tea.

The 289-run stand between Smith and Burns wasn’t exhilarating in the way Brendon McCullum was on day one, when NZ’s retiring skipper smashed the fastest ever Test ton.

But it was old-school dominance, the sort of cricket lesson dished out so often during Steve Waugh’s successful reign as skipper.

Smith and Burns were both incredibly watchful, shouldering arms and striking only the balls they wanted to.

The Black Caps’ four-prong pace attack of Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Matt Henry and Wagner charged in throughout the day.

They tried plans A through to Z before Smith and Burns both finally fell late in the final session.

Both will be unhappy they were unable to bat out the day.

Both will be even more unhappy with their method of dismissals; near-identical hook shots to near-identical deliveries from Wagner that resulted in near-identical Martin Guptill catches.

Usman Khawaja edges and is caught by Brendon McCullum off the bowling of Trent Boult. Photo: Getty

But in producing Australia’s highest ever partnership in New Zealand and seeing off the second new ball, they revived the side’s hopes of avoiding defeat.

Such a result will take the team to top spot on the International Cricket Council’s rankings.

Nightwatchman Nathan Lyon will resume on four, while Adam Voges finished two not out.

Burns and Smith were unconvincing early but the runs came more freely after a testing opening hour.

Henry had Burns caught behind on 35 but the opener successfully used the Decision Review System (DRS) to overturn his dismissal.

The Queenslander was in two minds about whether to play the short delivery.

Burns was more certain about reviewing umpire Ranmore Martinesz’s verdict, with replays confirming the ball came off his bicep.

The pitch, so green and wet on day one, has flattened out.

Part-time offspinner Kane Williamson delivered five overs as McCullum tried everything to conjure a wicket.

Pundits are already questioning the merits of NZ’s decision to omit tweaker Mark Craig but it’s arguable whether the offspinner would have made a difference.


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