Australian in control after 3 days of 2nd test vs NZealand

GREG BUCKLE
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Australia New Zealand Cricket

New Zealand's Tom Latham leaves the field after being dismissed by Australia during their cricket test match in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — New Zealand was bowled out for 148 as Australia’s intimidating pace attack exposed a struggling middle order on day three of the second test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday.

The relentlessly accurate Pat Cummins claimed 5-28, removing four of New Zealand’s top five batsmen. World No. 1-ranked bowler Cummins received strong support from fellow quicks James Pattinson (3-34) and Mitchell Starc (2-30).

Holding a 319-run lead on the first innings, Australia chose not to enforce the follow on and reached 137-4 at stumps, an overall lead of 456 runs with two days of play remaining.

In a further blow to New Zealand, pace spearhead Trent Boult was struck on his right hand, his non-bowling hand, while batting on Saturday.

A team spokesperson said scans had revealed Boult had fractured his right hand. Boult will return to New Zealand after the second test and will miss the third and final test in Sydney starting on Jan. 3.

“It’s gutting news for Trent and also our group,” opening batsman Tom Latham said, adding that Australia’s pace attack was relentless.

“They didn’t really let us have anything," Latham said. "The way they executed was spot on from a bowling point of view and unfortunately we didn’t quite handle it the way we would have wanted to."

Latham said New Zealand needed to find a way to match Australia’s ability to build partnerships.

Joe Burns (35) and David Warner (38) shared an opening stand of 62 on Saturday in Australia's second innings of 137-4, while Marnus Labuschagne made 19.

New Zealand pace bowler Neil Wagner pitched short and Steve Smith was caught at backward square leg for seven at 110-4, as Wagner (4-83 and 2-39) continued his dominance over the world No. 2-ranked batsman in this series. The prized wicket of Smith was also Wagner’s 200th test wicket in his 46th match.

New Zealand had resumed on Saturday morning at 44-2 and lost eight wickets for 104 runs in a total of 148 in response to Australia’s 467.

Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls and B.J. Watling all failed to reach double figures, before Colin de Grandhomme fell for 11 as New Zealand wobbled to 102-6 at lunch.

Cummins was on a hat-trick in the third over of the day after removing Taylor (4) caught at first slip and Nicholls (first-ball duck) lbw in consecutive deliveries.

Latham played a determined knock of 50 before he was caught behind off Cummins at 112-7 after lunch.

Cummins picked up the fifth five-wicket haul of his career when he dismissed Tim Southee caught behind for 10. Cummins is the leading wicket-taker in test cricket in 2019 with 59 in 12 matches.

“I’ve had a pretty good run lately so I can’t see it getting too much better than what the last year has been,” Cummins said. “Hopefully I can maintain it at that level.”

On Friday, Travis Head (114) shared a 150-run partnership with skipper Tim Paine (79) to tilt the game firmly in Australia’s favor.

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