Black Caps wilt in Melbourne heat as Australia cruise to series win

By Sports Desk December 29, 2019

Australia claimed a series win over New Zealand after easing to victory in the Boxing Day Test, despite a fighting display from centurion Tom Blundell.

New Zealand wilted in the Melbourne heat at the MCG, where Australia wrapped up a crushing 247-run win on day four of the second Test on Sunday.

Blundell rallied for the Black Caps, celebrating his second Test hundred in three matches with a resilient 121 runs, but he had no support from his team-mates after Nathan Lyon (4-81) and James Pattinson (3-35) starred.

Marnus Labuschagne (1-11) ended Blundell's unforgettable innings late in the evening as Australia only required nine wickets to skittle New Zealand for 240 – Trent Boult not batting due to a fractured finger.

Australia declared,168-5, 10 overs into the penultimate day – the hosts setting New Zealand a mammoth 488 for victory as temperatures soared.

Already humbled by 296 runs in Perth, the Black Caps faced an uphill battle to keep the series alive in their first Boxing Day appearance in Melbourne in 1987, and Pattinson wreaked havoc on Sunday morning.

After a lively and tenacious start by Pat Cummins (0-47), Mitchell Starc (0-59) and Australia, Pattinson made an immediate impact with the wicket of opener Tom Latham for 8.

Pattinson – back in the team as a replacement for injured quick Josh Hazlewood – flourished on his home ground, claiming another two wickets before lunch to leave New Zealand reeling on 38-3.

After trapping captain Kane Williamson for a duck – his seventh against Australia – Pattinson then removed Ross Taylor (2), who chopped onto his own stumps.

Blundell dug deep following lunch with a half-century as New Zealand showed some fight, only losing one wicket in the middle session after Henry Nicholls (33) fell to Lyon.

BJ Watling (22) and Mitchell Santner (27) were the only other players to provide support for Blundell en route to a century on another forgettable day for New Zealand.

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