Second Test, day three, MCG
First innings: Australia 467, New Zealand 148
Second innings: Australia 4-168 dec, New Zealand 9-240
Blundell 121 last man out, Wagner 6 no (Boult could not bat)
Australia has won the second Test at the MCG after paceman James Pattinson smashed through the New Zealand top order in the morning session.
The tourists were set 488 for victory on day four, but Pattinson’s three wickets followed by a brilliant stumping by Tim Paine put the Black Caps middle order under intense pressure.
A rearguard fighting innings from Tom Blundell, supported by BJ Watling, frustrated Australia in the hour after tea until Nathan Lyon broke through to have Watling caught by David Warner in slips for 22.
Lyon then had the big-swinging Colin de Grandhomme caught for nine at backward square leg.
Blundell had a life on 90 when given lbw to Pattinson, but the video review showed it was missing the stumps. He went on to hit a fine century before being the last man out when caught at mid on by Marnus Labuschagne for 121.
Man of the match Travis Head, who hit a century in Australia’s first innings, said the pitch had flattened out in the second innings making it more difficult to get wickets.
“It was a tough day. They batted exceptional,” Head told Channel Seven.
“It made it hard for us. We knew if we put the ball in the right area we put the ball in the right area we would create enough chances. So a fantastic day.
Head said the Aussie bowlers showed their class, with James Pattinson’s effort on Sunday making a huge difference.
“He is fantastic the energy he brings in the group. We have seen in England how fantastic he bowled. I think we have seen the dynamic of that group of bowlers now being world class. He has added to the list. If one goes down one steps up.”
“We have a heap of world class fast bowlers which helps. The three who played this game were fantastic. [Pat] Cummins started off. James, when we needed him to step up he did. So it was fantastic to see.”
New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson defended his decision to send the home side in to bat after winning the toss.
“Basically. I felt like there wasn’t enough in the surface,” he said at the presentations. “We weren’t at our best. It was important for us to be on top of our game.
“The surface offered some sideways movement and swing. But once again credit to Australia to get through particularly the first session and put 400 on the board.
“Look, obviously we have got a fantastic attack. They have the pace an the bounce but their accuracy I think is something that was sort of stood apart.”
On a day when fellow Victorian Peter Siddle announced he will retire from International cricket, Pattinson snared three scalps in two overs.
Pattinson had Tom Latham caught behind for eight, with the Black Caps slumping to 1-31. He then had the dangerous Kane Williamson out lbw for a duck, with a review leaving the decision with the umpire.
Soon after, Ross Taylor chopped a Pattinson ball onto his stumps to fall for just two runs.
Pattinson went to lunch with figures of 3-5 and told Channel Seven at the break that he had been a bit lucky with a “chop on and wide delivery”.
“We are in a very good position … I just worked with the wind … it’s fantastic here on Boxing Day,” he said.
After lunch Henry Nicholls fell for 33 when Nathan Lyon enticed him forward and Paine completed a sharp stumping chance.
Australia resumed Sunday’s day four of the second Test at 4-137, leading the Black Caps by a 456 runs. Matthew Wade resumed on 12 and Travis Head on 15.
They added a further 31 runs before declaring, with Wade ending on 30 and Travis Head bowled by Neil Wagner for 28, prompting the declaration.
Earlier, Siddle had been feted onfield by the Australians after his decision to step down from International duties.
The Victorian played 67 Tests for Australia, taking 221 wickets and was called into the extended squad for the Boxing Day Test.
Siddle told Channel Seven on Sunday said he was a bit sad to be retiring, but added it was a relief.
“I’m happy with the decision I made,” Siddle said from the commentary box. “I was more composed than I probably thought I would be.
“Before I told JL [Justin Langer] the morning of day one, we had a chat then that that’s where it felt in a bit more real. But like I said, happy, content. I’m getting older and these young guys are amazing cricketers. They are going to go well.”
On Saturday Pat Cummins became the world’s leading wicket-taker for 2019 despite virtually playing with one less mode of dismissal than all the other bowlers.
Cummins had claimed his first lbw in Test cricket in 21 months when he trapped Henry Nicholls, ending a streak of 70 wickets without one.
It therefore marked the only one of his 59 wickets he has taken this year in that fashion, having trapped just six players lbw in his career.
“Was it? The first lbw? None in England?” Cummins responded when told of the run. “I probably should have bowled fuller. I don’t know.
That has surprised me because we always talk about the ball hitting the bails or that sort of stuff. Thanks for that. I’ll work on that.”
Cummins instead has a far higher proportion of wickets taken via catches then most other bowlers thanks largely to his extra bounce and nagging line outside off stump.
Twenty-nine of his 41 wickets in 2019 were taken as catches, with his percentage of 81.3 dismissals in that mode far higher than the global average of 64 per cent.
His percentage of bowling batsmen is therefore lower than most, having skittled the stumps just 10 times in 2019.
“I feel like a lot of the wickets are caught behind the wicket and a few short balls,” Cummins said. “I feel when the wicket’s really true, it’s hard to attack the stumps sometimes.
“That too is a challenge, getting the ball in a position when you can get an LBW or a bowled.”
He did however note an MCG wicket offering far more pace and bounce had him bowling fuller and said the Australians had made a point not to bowl as short.