After a big win in the day night test at Perth, Australia were all over New Zealand yet again at MCG in the boxing day test finally winning by a big margin of 247 runs in 4 days. The Kiwis have simply failed to live upto their billing and were no match to the ruthlessness of their trans-tasman rivals. Williamson won the toss and put Australia in with the hope of exploiting the conditions and Boult obliged in his very first over clean bowling Joe Burns with a beautiful inswinger which went through the gate. However it was all Australia from that point till the end of the Test. Labushagne from the moment he stepped in was in full control with his solid strokes all round while Warner looked to hit the straps till he was caught at slip for 41 after looking really good for another big one. Smith dug himself in typical fashion with his trademark leaves as Labushagne looked set for another 3 figure score till he dragged one off his elbow off DGrandhome to be dismissed against the run of play for a fine 63. Smith ,unbeaten on 77 at stumps on first day ,played the short ball well and grinded out his runs. However ,he looked edgy against Wagner on 2nd morning and finally succumbed to a great short ball on his throat which he fended to gully to be out for 85, thus still in search for his elusive test ton at home this season . Wade made 38 but it was the 150 run partnership between Tim Paine and Travis Head that set up Australia for the rest of the game. Head , criticised for wasting good starts was all concentration this time while Paine came out all guns blazing and played attractive shots all round the wicket before being dismissed for an enterprising 79. Head (114) finally got his ton as Australia finished at 467 with Wagner (4/83) being the leading wicket take again .
With an uphill task in front of them New Zealand were confronted by the brilliant Pat Cummins . Living upto his number 1 ranking Cummins bowled with pace and accuracy to rip through the Kiwi batting with 5/28 and well supported by Pattinson (3/35) and Starc (2/30) as the Kiwis were skittled out for 148 helped only by a gritty 50 from Tom Latham.
Aussies batted 2nd time instead of enforcing the followon to post 168/5 with Warner, Burns and Wade getting 30s but significantly Smith (7) was dismissed to another short ball to which he played a loose pull shot off guess who, Wagner again !! The spirited fast bowler thus had Smith 4 times in this series off short balls, something to note for bowling attacks around the world ?
Set 488 to win , the Kiwis this time were ripped apart in Pattinson’s opening spell with Latham and Taylor falling to loose shots and Williamson having his 2nd failure of the match ,lbw for nought. Makeshift opener Tom Blundell ,who replaced Jeet Raval in this test was the only batter ,who batted solidly against the high quality bowling attack mixing caution with aggression and scored a valiant 121 with few other flashes of resistance from Nicholls (33) and Watling (22). Lyon (4/81) got into the act taking out the lower middle order as New Zealand were dismissed for 240 and thereby losing by 247 runs to wrap up a dissappointingly one sided MCG Test . Travis Head for his 100 was the man of the match.
With one test to go, the Blackcaps failed in this series to justify their number 2 test ranking and showed that they still lack the spunk to compete in a high profile test match atmosphere against their big brothers . The failures of Williamson in this series has not helped their cause. Australia on the other hand has started to look solid after the returns of Warner and Smith and the emergence of a strong number 3 in Labushagne. Thus their batting is looking much more stable than it was a year ago. With 256 points ,Australia are placed at number two in World test championship points table and are closing in on table toppers India.
With Trent Boult returning home due to injury, we will see a changed bowling attack for the Blackcaps at Sydney and with Pattinson doing well at MCG, Hazlewood may get rested further to get back to full fitness.