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Nathan Lyon was the hero for Australia as he contributed with both his batting and bowling skills to help his team in the first Test against New Zealand, who made a comeback and put up a fight.
Cricket Sport

Nathan Lyon was the hero for Australia as he contributed with both his batting and bowling skills to help his team in the first Test against New Zealand, who made a comeback and put up a fight.

Australia are seven wickets from retaining the Trans-Tasman Trophy and winning the first Test against New Zealand, with Nathan Lyon at the centre of their toil. Spinner Lyon made an innings-high 41 as the tourists slumped to 164 in their second dig; disappointing, but still enough to set the Black Caps an improbable 369 for victory.

At the end of the third day of play, New Zealand was at a score of 111-3 in their determined pursuit. They still needed 258 points in order to secure their first win against their biggest rivals on home ground in 31 years. Despite the challenging objective ahead, the Kiwis had their most successful day of the test at the Basin Reserve on Saturday.

The standout in their bowling performance was none other than Glenn Phillips, who also shone with the bat. Phillips managed to take five wickets for 45 runs, taking down key Australian players Travis Head (29) and Mitch Marsh (0) in back-to-back deliveries, giving him a chance at a hat-trick. Although Alex Carey survived the next ball, Phillips was able to dismiss him as well, along with Usman Khawaja (28) and Cam Green (34).

Impressive performance from a T20 wicketkeeper turned international player, who was initially ignored by captain Tim Southee during Australia’s first innings scoring of 383. Lyon praised Glenn for his excellent bowling and sticking to a simple game plan, as he was simply unbeatable. Matt Henry also had a strong showing with a three for 36 following his five for 70 in the first innings.

Australia failed to match the impressive performance of Cam Green’s unbeaten 174 in their second innings. While Nathan Lyon, known for his batting average of 12, was the only one to have a decent showing, he was unable to achieve a career goal.

The 36-year-old hit six boundaries as he achieved his second-highest score in 162 innings, but he was unable to reach the Test half-century he has been longing for. “This is only the second time in my career that I have top-scored, and hopefully it will be the last,” Lyon expressed.

New Zealand’s day would have been even more successful had they not missed their catches. The team’s fielding performance was hindered by poor execution, as Scott Kuggeleijn, Southee (twice), and Henry Nicholls all failed to catch routine balls.

After tea, when New Zealand began batting, captain Pat Cummins promptly introduced Lyon into the game, which was a smart move. Lyon (with two wickets and 27 runs conceded) caught Tom Latham behind the wicket with his second ball, and soon after the break, he also took the important wicket of Kane Williamson.

“A well-positioned field resulted in Williamson’s downfall as the ex-skipper deftly played Lyon’s delivery towards the leg side, only for it to be caught by Steve Smith at an unconventional position called leg slip for a score of nine. Smith followed up with another impressive catch, using a one-handed late reaction to dismiss Will Young from Head’s spin.”

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After that, New Zealand showed resilience with Rachin Ravindra scoring 56 runs and Daryl Mitchell scoring 11 runs, coming together for a crucial 50-run partnership to maintain their hopes in the game going into the fourth day. It is uncertain whether Will O’Rourke, who had the best bowling figures with 0-11 and four maiden overs, will be able to bat since he left the field with a hamstring injury after his eighth over.

If New Zealand succeeds, it would set new records. Surpassing a total of 369 runs would mark their largest successful fourth-innings chase in their 94-year history of Test matches. This would also be the biggest successful fourth-innings chase at the Basin Reserve by a margin of nearly 100 runs. Furthermore, it would halt the Black Caps’ 31-year streak without a home victory against Australia and give them a chance to regain the Trans-Tasman Trophy, which they have not held for the same duration.

Source: theguardian.com