Sport Cricket Australia wins NZ series, goes top of rankings

Australia wins NZ series, goes top of rankings

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Australia has moved to the top of the Test rankings after sealing a 2-0 series win in New Zealand on Wednesday.

Steve Smith’s side, chasing 201 for victory in the second Test at Hagley Oval in Christchurch, resumed in a commanding position at 1-70.

Joe Burns (65) and Usman Khawaja (45) were the not out batsmen overnight and New Zealand needed early wickets to stand any chance of levelling the trans-Tasman series.

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But none followed as Burns and Khawaja took the score to 113, before the latter – who survived an earlier edge – departed to Tim Southee (1-30 off seven overs).

New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum caught Khawaja in the slips, his last meaningful contribution in his final Test.

Burns was joined at the crease by Smith and the pair quickly compiled a 66-run partnership in just 11.1 overs.

Smith, who hit four fours and one six in a 46-ball 53, opted for four extra overs to try and seal Australia’s chase before lunch but Burns was then bowled by Trent Boult (1-60 off 17).

That stopped Australia’s momentum and forced lunch, with Smith and Adam Voges (10 not out) guiding the visitors to victory shortly after play resumed.

And their win saw them return to the top of the Test rankings, replacing India.

Burns was named man-of-the-match after following up a masterful 170 in the first innings with a half-century.

Seamer Jackson Bird, who took seven wickets, including 5-59 in New Zealand’s second innings, could feel hard done by – while Smith also had claims after a century of his own.

Defeat was cruel on McCullum, who, on day one, hit the fastest Test century when he reached triple figures in just 54 balls.

He finished with a 79-ball 145 that swung the game dramatically in New Zealand’s favour, given their previously precious position of 4-74.

But, like they did in Wellington’s first Test, New Zealand’s bowlers failed to fire in Australia’s first innings.

And the tourists’ mammoth score of 505 set up their victory, completed with ease on day five.

There was also more to come from Tuesday’s ugly spat between Australia’s players and on-field umpire Ranmore Martinesz.

Josh Hazlewood was initially fined after pleading guilty to a dissent charge.

And Smith was also charged on Wednesday by the ICC for dissent. Details of his sanction are yet to be released.

Australia is now headed for South Africa, where they will play a three-match Twenty20 series that begins on March 4.

It serves as preparation for the ICC World Twenty20 – where Australia meet New Zealand in their opening match on March 18.

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