Tom Blundell shared defiant half-century partnerships with Henry Nicholls (33) and BJ Watling (22) to steady the New Zealand second innings, as he scored 121 off 210 balls, but could not prevent his side's defeat
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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The ball hit the non-striker’s bat and ricocheted to mid-off after Nicholls tried to drive it straight. The dismissal left the fielders as well as the commentators baffled.