Melbourne: A stylish century from Tom Blundell could not prevent Australia from overpowering New Zealand to claim a series-clinching, 247-run win with a day to spare in the second cricket Test.
Off-spinner Nathan Lyon took 4-81 and claimed the last catch to dismiss Blundell late Sunday, and paceman James Pattinson returned 3-35 on home soil.
Resuming on day four on 137-4, Australia declared its second innings closed at 168-5, an overall lead of 487.
New Zealand lost three wickets for three runs in a top-order collapse as Pattinson struck three times in two overs, leaving Kane Williamson’s lineup in a desperate position at 38-3 at lunch.
Introduced to the attack in the ninth over, Pattinson had Tom Latham (8) caught behind to make the total 32-1. In his next over, Pattinson trapped Williamson lbw for a duck, before Ross Taylor (2) chopped a short ball onto his stumps four deliveries later.
Williamson, ranked among the top three batsmen in Test cricket, has scored 34, 14, nine and a duck in the series. His captaincy has also been questioned by ex-Kiwi skipper Brendon McCullum, who described some of his tactics as “staggering”.
Blundell, 29, posted the second century of his three-Test career, in his first Test since 2017. Having played two Tests batting at No 8 in 2017, reserve wicketkeeper Blundell was recalled for the Melbourne Test and given the opening role, replacing Jeet Raval.
Blundell shared half-century partnerships with Henry Nicholls (33) and BJ Watling (22) to steady the innings.
Lyon had Nicholls neatly stumped by Tim Paine at 89-4 and then had Watling caught at leg slip at 161-5, ending an entertaining 72-run stand.
Colin de Grandhomme started aggressively and scored nine off 12 deliveries, before offering a catch to backward square as Lyon picked up a third wicket of the innings. Mitch Santner (27) hit five boundaries before he was outsmarted by Lyon and departed, caught behind at 212-7.
Tailender Tim Southee was run out and Blundell was caught by Lyon low to the ground at mid-on after a late surge of boundaries in his 210-ball innings which included 15 fours. Injured pace bowler Trent Boult did not bat because of a fractured hand.
Boult has been ruled out of the third in Sydney starting Friday. Australia has added uncapped leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson to its squad.
The Australian attack dominated in Melbourne, with Pat Cummins (5-28), Pattinson (3-34) and Mitchell Starc (2-20) ripping through New Zealand for 148 in its first innings on Saturday. That bowling performance followed Australia’s imposing first-innings total of 467 including man-of-the-match Travis Head’s 114.
The Boxing Day Test, New Zealand’s first at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) since 1987, attracted a crowd of 203,472 in four days of play.
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