Stubborn Black Caps fight on

By Jamie Wall
Black Caps bowler Neil Wagner.  Photo/Getty Images

A fighting half century from Tom Blundell is giving a bit of respectability to the Black Caps’ effort in the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. At the tea break on day four the tourists are 131/4, still 357 runs behind the big total that was set for them earlier in the day by the Australians.

Australian captain Tim Paine declared their innings at 168/5, an overall lead of 487, after they only used only the first 40 minutes to add to their overnight total. 

There are now a a session and a full day to bat on a Melbourne Cricket Ground pitch that saw them rolled for 148 yesterday, and if they can somehow chase down the runs needed it will be a test cricket record.

That seems unlikely now, especially since they’ll be doing it with one less wicket due to Trent Boult being ruled out of the entire series. The Black Caps pace bowler fractured his hand yesterday and will not bat.

The wicket of Tom Latham was a particularly sweet one for the Aussies in front of the raucous Kiwis contingent at the 'G! #AUSvNZ | @alintaenergy pic.twitter.com/JqVHvmvffG

The third day saw a steady stream of New Zealand wickets fall, with only Tom Latham managing to make any runs. His half century was a lone beacon of resistance as Pat Cummins cleaned up the batting order with an outstanding 5-28.

Even though it was well short of the Australian first innings total of 467, Paine opted not to enforce the follow on and looked to punish the Black Caps by sending them out in the rapidly rising Melbourne heat to field for an extra couple of sessions. The Australians got off to a quick start, with David Warner and Joe Burns putting on 62 before Warner was caught at slip by Tom Blundell off Neil Wagner’s bowling.

They eventually made it to 168 this morning before Travis Head had his leg stump removed by Wagner. Paine called his batsmen in for a short break, meaning that Blundell and Latham set about rectifying something from what was supposed to be a triumphant return to the MCG for the Black Caps after 32 years of waiting.

The opening pair started well, looking good until Latham played a loose shot to be caught behind for 8. Then disaster struck as Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor fell in quick succession, with the Black Caps skipper victim to a slightly dodgy LBW decision. However, there can be no complaints about Taylor’s dismissal, with his middle stump removed from the ground by James Pattinson.

The expected collapse didn’t come just yet, with Blundell showing that his selection as an opener was justified. BJ Watling is there with him at tea, but barring a miracle, the Black Caps are headed for a heavy defeat here in Melbourne. 

Australia v NZ, second test

Tea, day four:

Australia first innings: 467 all out (T Head 114, S Smith 85, N Wagner 4-83)

Second innings: 168/5 dec (D Warner 38, N Wager 3-50)

NZ first innings: 148 all out (T Latham 50, P Cummins 5-28)

Second innings: 131/4 (T Blundell 73*, J Pattinson 3-33)