THE first ever day-night Test ended in thrilling fashion as New Zealand threatened to steal the game from right under Australia’s nose.
Cruising with five wickets in hand and just 15 runs to get, the game took another turn when the pink ball came alive and made life impossible for Australia’s batsmen, who struggled to come to terms with Trent Boult and Tim Southee’s swing and seam.
Eventually, though, Peter Siddle squeezed a ball through point and he and Mitchell Starc ran two to secure victory. Siddle had been trying desperately to hit the winning runs for some time, but somehow kept finding fielders and even hit the stumps at the bowler’s end in scenes that went from nerve-racking to comical.
The successful run chase was built upon Shaun Marsh’s determined 49, a knock that seemed unlikely when he started his innings under enormous pressure against some accurate bowling. But the left-hander toughed it out early before going on to flourish, taking his side to within sight of the finish line as he shared in vital partnerships with Adam Voges (28) and brother Mitch (28) to rescue Australia from peril.
The Aussies’ position looked unsure at 3-66, particularly with their best batsmen in Smith (14) and Warner (35) back in the sheds, but their teammates rallied around Marsh to help Australia win the series 2-0.
The Kiwis did themselves no favours in the field, as Smith was dropped twice in his stay at the crease. The first was a difficult chance to Watling’s right, but the second was a dolly that debutant Mitchell Santner made look more difficult than creating a croquembouche on Masterchef.
Trent Boult was outstanding for the Black Caps, swinging the ball at will and finishing with 5-60 off his 16 overs.
After resuming at 5-116 earlier in the day (a lead of 94), consistent wickets meant the visitors weren’t able to extend their lead as much as they would have liked, thanks mainly to the work of Josh Hazlewood. Hazlewood struck early with the wicket of BJ Watling for seven and he had Mark Craig (15) out shortly after.
Doug Bracewell did his best to lead a lower-order revival with an unbeaten 27. He had useful partnerships with Tim Southee (13) and Boult (5) as the last two wickets added 33 together.
But once again it was that man Hazlewood who broke the deadlock, coming back into the attack to knock over Boult’s stumps and end New Zealand’s innings on 208 — a lead of 186. He ended up with six wickets in the innings and nine for the Test, a feat that earnt him the man of the match award.