Pat Cummins
Pat Cummins

Aussie bowlers out gun Kiwis to close in on series victory

An Australian bowling assault put a series-sealing victory in Melbourne within the home team's grasp as Pat Cummins and James Pattinson showed the value of fearsome fast stuff on a MCG wicket finally receptive to it.

The number two Test ranking, and more importantly holding on to second place on the Test Championship ladder, are Australia's for the taking too as a series hyped to be a contest fizzled.

 

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New Zealand hasn't managed more than 171 in three innings so far this series and now 456 behind, with the Aussie attack rested and ready to go, a bit of fight is the best the tourists could hope for on day four of the second Test.  

 

 

They didn't show much on day three in 36 relentless overs from the Aussies who took 8-104 to dismiss the Kiwis for just 148, with all 10 wickets shared by the fast bowlers.

Cummins took five wickets, Pattinson three and Mitchell Starc two in a withering display that had top-order batsmen struggling for answers and tail-enders just trying not to get hit.

Pat Cummins took five wickets in the innings as the Kiwis crumbled.
Pat Cummins took five wickets in the innings as the Kiwis crumbled.

The difference between the two teams was laid bare when Australian captain Tim Paine opted against enforcing the follow-on.

Given a brand new ball, and the same pitch the Aussies ripped through New Zealand on, the medium-fast efforts of Trent Boult and Tim Southee couldn't make the slightest dent.

Twenty overs ticked by with hardly a chance as the 130kmh efforts of the Kiwi seamers proved more manageable than the 140kmh-plus thunderbolts the Aussies consistently produced.

Starc even topped 150kmh bowling to the last New Zealanders standing after Cummins had ripped out most of the top order, including Ross Taylor and Henry Nicholls in consecutive deliveries.

The much-publicised short-ball onslaught from the Black Cap bowlers may have helped them stop Steve Smith from scoring any hundreds, and landed a few body blows on a struggling Mathew Wade.

But a massive win in Perth and another first innings run-fest in Melbourne was enough to suggest the tourists needed a Plan B.

In two Tests the Kiwi bowlers have conceded 1237 runs with an attack lacking a killer punch, while making just 485 runs of their own against an Aussie outfit which hunts in a pack.

New Zealand warriors Tim Southee and Neil Wagner have bowled more overs (205) than the entire Australian attack combined (175.4).

James Pattinson was a force of nature in front of his home crowd in Melbourne.
James Pattinson was a force of nature in front of his home crowd in Melbourne.

But that has just magnified the effect of fast versus not as fast bowling on Aussie wickets.

"We might not be the quickest bowlers on the radar but we're definitely some of the fittest bowlers going around," said Wagner after toiling on day two.

"We can definitely back up over after over keep running in and really try the hardest."

No-one doubts the effort, of ironman Wagner particular, who has managed to dismiss Smith four times and picked up his 200th Test wicket too.

Steve Smith fell to Neil Wagner for a fourth straight innings, but by then Australia were too far ahead of the contest for it to matter.
Steve Smith fell to Neil Wagner for a fourth straight innings, but by then Australia were too far ahead of the contest for it to matter.

But even that effort has still come at a cost of 151 runs.

Colin DeGrandhomme was his team's best bowler on the opening day, taking two wickets.

But he spent Saturday trying to dismiss David Warner, a man who has 23 Test hundreds, with 120kmh dibbly-dobblies.

And Joe Burns hit Southee, returning for his second spell, down the ground for six in message-sending blow normally struck wearing coloured clothes.           

Shots like that brought thoughts of a day three declaration that didn't come with two days left for the Aussies to take a victory which now seems inevitable. 


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