Australia may have dominated the first Test against New Zealand, but as the series heads to the showpiece matches at the MCG and SCG the tourists have plenty of new information with which to plot a comeback.
Australia dominated from day one in the searing heat of Perth and having won the toss never gave up the advantage, with NZ all out for 171 to slump to a 296-run loss.
That New Zealand capitulated in the chase for 468 is not in doubt, but it was the Australian collapse on Saturday night that will be the focus of the tourist’s attention in their review.
Steve Smith’s failure to handle a short-ball pace attack and a less than stellar effort from the middle order may give the Black Caps some hope that Christmas could bring a more competitive effort in Melbourne.
Each of Australia’s top six fell to shorter balls in the second innings.
Four of those were caught on the pull shot with fielders intentionally set for catches around the bat and in the deep as Neil Wagner (3-59) and Southee (5-69) troubled them.
Expect ten days of discussion and angst over the state of the MCG pitch, which will be under even more scrutiny than ever after last week’s Sheffield Shield abandoned-match debacle.
While the pitch is unlikely to be as lively as that game, or even Perth, both teams also go into the second Test with weakened pace attacks.
New Zealand lost Brent Boult with a side strain before the match began and his replacement Lockie Ferguson has a calf injury.
Australia’s Josh Hazlewood could not bowl or bat after injuring his hamstring on day three. The home side has James Pattinson and rookie Michael Neser in their squad, with Pattinson likely to be favoured to add to his 19 Tests.
Man of the match was Mitchell Starc whose nine wicket haul came as he covered the gap left by Hazlewood’s injury.
“Tougher than normal to bowl in this heat, full credit to the group,” Starc said after the match.
“Even the part-timers did a great job for us. [It’s] never nice to see a bowler go down. It’s going alright for me, I have a clear mindset …
Few days off, play a bit of golf, rest up and prepare for Boxing Day Test.”
The loss saw NZ slump to just one win in their last 23 Tests in Australia.
Their captain Kane Williamson said it had been a challenging Test.
“Tactically they were outstanding, ahead from get-go,” he said. “They were a long way ahead after the first innings.
“Important for us to reflect and look for those improvements, we have some time to reflect. Conditions were much different to the surfaces in Hamilton we were used to.”
After Marnus Labuschagne helped set up Australia’s advantage with 144 in their first-innings 416, Starc and Nathan Lyon did the job with the ball.
Starc claimed 4-45 to go with his first-innings 5-52, taking his record with the pink ball to 42 scalps in just seven day-night Tests.
He got the key wicket of Ross Taylor on Sunday, removing the star batsman when he underedged on through to Tim Paine behind the stumps.
Lyon, meanwhile, finished with 3-63, getting plenty of turn out of a wicket that’s cracks were offering plenty of movement for both the quicks and spinners.
His first ball on Sunday was arguably his best, ripping and turning out of the footmarks to catch Kane Williamson’s gloves and go straight to short leg on 14.
He later had Tom Latham lbw for 22, removed Henry Nicholls (21) off the final ball before dinner at bat pad and nicked off Tim Southee for four to finish the match.
In a poor Sunday for New Zealand, only BJ Watling reached 40 as one of the world’s best batting line ups succumbed for just 337 runs across their two innings.
Australian skipper Tim Paine praised his bowlers and conceded Australia had the better of the conditions.
“Really proud of our bowling attack, to take 20 wickets in 105 overs with two seamers in this heat is pretty incredible,” he said. “Lyon was superb as well.”