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New Zealand set Australia 201-run target

February 23rd, 2016 | by admin
New Zealand set Australia 201-run target

Australia need 201 to defeat New Zealand and claim the No. 1 Test ranking after Matt Henry and BJ Watling fought gamely to give the hosts a chance on day four of the second Test at Hagley Oval.

Tempers had simmered during a long stand between Kane Williamson and Corey Anderson, before Jackson Bird struck once with the old ball then twice with the new to take the visitors closer to a fourth-innings chase. But Watling and Henry played with good sense to add 118 for the eighth wicket and ensure New Zealand have something to defend.

James Pattinson and Josh Hazlewood again bowled with pace, direction and reverse swing in the first hour and went exceptionally close to dismissing both batsmen more than once. Hazlewood’s last appeal – and Australia’s last referral – moments before lunch drew another denial and considerable frustration from Steven Smith’s men.

But the clearest chance of the morning went down when Mitchell Marsh dropped Anderson in the gully, and the tourists went to the interval clearly angry at not being able to dislodge the overnight pair. They were more patient when faced by Watling and Henry, and were eventually rewarded when Pattinson had Watling caught on the leg side and Henry was bowled by Bird.

Old-ball swing had been key to Australia claiming four wickets on the third evening, and it was again evident as Pattinson and Hazlewood resumed their barrage. Williamson and then Anderson were both subjects of concerted lbw appeals, but on each occasion DRS replays showed contact with the bat first.

Anderson’s escape was queried by the Australians, but was quickly followed by a ball angled across and a sliced drive that burst through Marsh’s hands. By the standard set in this match, including Marsh’s own unrewarded catch off a no-ball on day one, it was a bad miss.

Further close calls followed: Williamson edged Hazlewood the merest fraction short of Peter Nevill’s gloves, and right on lunch the bowler appeared to strike New Zealand’s No. 3 in front with a swinging yorker from around the wicket.

The Australians appealed vehemently and reviewed instantly, but HotSpot replays picked up the faintest inside edge from Williamson before the ball struck his pad, leaving Smith’s men toangrily confront the on-field umpire and express their surprise.

Through all this Williamson and Anderson remained, giving New Zealand something of a foothold in the match against increasingly feverish opponents. They remained unhappy until Bird coaxed Anderson into dragging on in the 79th over of the innings, a wicket that opened up an end for the second new ball.

Williamson was on 97 when a hint of seam movement with the fresh ball resulted in an edge onto the stumps and, in the same over, Tim Southee snicked to Smith in the slips. Australia sensed they were close to sealing the match, but Watling and Henry had other ideas.

Unfussy but positive, they worked the ball around with calculated moments of aggression to build the lead, not offering a chance in the process. By the interval, their union was New Zealand’s best for the eighth wicket in a decade, once more leaving Smith to ponder his options.

Pattinson tightened up Watling after the break and was rewarded when he flicked the lowest of catches to Joe Burns in front of square leg. Bird found a way through Henry, and Trent Boult offered up a skier to give the adopted Tasmanian his first five-wicket haul in Tests.

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