AUS VS NZ 1st Test: Nathan Lyon’s Dominant Performance Leads Australia to Convincing Victory

Australia’s Nathan Lyon delivers a remarkable performance, clinching a ten-wicket match haul to guide Australia to a commanding 172-run victory over New Zealand in the first Test at the Basin Reserve.

Hope had been raised by New Zealand at the beginning of the fourth day, but it quickly dissipated as the offspinner got to work.

AUS VS NZ 1st Test: Nathan Lyon's Dominant Performance Leads Australia to Convincing Victory

Australia defeated New Zealand 179 (Phillips 71, Lyon 4-43) and 196 (Ravindra 59, Lyon 6-65) by 172 runs with scores of 383 (Green 174*, Henry 5-70) and 164 (Lyon 41, Phillips 5-45).

Following a thrilling comeback on the third day, New Zealand resumed at 111 for 3, looking intimidating at 369 with a nearly full house anticipating a surprise attack.

However, Lyon ended New Zealand’s resistance with the wickets of Rachin Ravindra, Tom Blundell, and Glenn Phillips in two overs following a calm start, with the surface looking to be playing a little easier than the first three days.

Daryl Mitchell stood his ground in vain, watching wickets fall at the other end, and was the final batsman to be removed for 38 off 130 balls.

Lyon was Australia’s match winner once again, finishing with 6 for 65 and match scores of 10-108 on a court that twisted and bounced fiercely. Since 2006, it was the first time a spinner in New Zealand had claimed ten wickets.

The main performers were Lyon (41), who also top-scored for Australia in the second innings, and Cameron Green (174 not out), whose brilliant innings-opening 174 on a bowler-friendly pitch was impressive. Thirteen bowlers claimed a wicket in just the fifth Test match—the most since 1966.

New Zealand‘s suffering persisted as they were bowled out for less than 200 runs in both innings and could produce little fight at the bat, with just one Test victory over Australia since 1993.

After getting off to a strong start and sending Australia in, New Zealand lamented a poor bowling effort as they stood by helplessly as Josh Hazlewood and Aaron Green put together a record-breaking 116 runs at the final wicket. As the match progressed, New Zealand was also left to regret not choosing Mitchell Santner, their frontline spinner, as the wicket began to provide more bite.

Day four’s early surrender by New Zealand was an anti-climax, as their remarkable comeback had given them some hope. To take the lead in this series, however, New Zealand would have to shatter all previous records; their best-ever fourth-inning run chase was 324 against Pakistan in Christchurch in 1994.

AUS VS NZ 1st Test: Nathan Lyon’s Dominant Performance Leads Australia to Convincing Victory

After combining for a composed half-century partnership late on day three, Ravindra and Mitchell needed 258 more runs, but there were no worries in the first half hour.
They were proactive and played strong defense, but when they went for a tight single with Mitchell relieved after Marnus Labuschagne’s shy at the stumps went wide, it nearly proved to be their undoing.

Given the unstable circumstances, Mitchell had played cautiously late on day three. However, on his 82nd delivery, he struck his first boundary of the innings after slicing a short delivery from Mitchell Starc. This was when Mitchell began to display signs of his natural aggression.

Before the end, Ravindra had reached fifty off 77 balls, but he was restrained and appeared nervous as he attempted to score more runs. As Lyon moved to the southern end of the field, Australia sensed this and crowded the off-side field.

It worked, as Ravindra stumbled and missed a cut shot that would have caused a collapse. Similar to his soft dismissal in the first innings, Blundell tentatively pressed forward and inside edged to short-leg later in the over, which led Lyon to dismiss him for a duck.

Mitchell and Phillips, who had been New Zealand’s star player in this match with a 70-ball 71 in the first inning and his first five-wicket Test haul in Australia’s second innings, were the only players who could save their hopes.

However, Phillips was lbw on the back foot as he reviewed ineffectively, leaving him no match for Lyon. Being the only bowlers to achieve that record in nine countries—along with Shane Warne and Muthiah Muralidaran—it was Lyon’s maiden five-wicket haul in New Zealand.

AUS VS NZ 1st Test: Nathan Lyon’s Dominant Performance Leads Australia to Convincing Victory

Green had not bowled in the competition until day four following his marathon knock. On that day, he demonstrated his skill with the ball by hitting a powerful delivery that soared off Scott Kuggeleijn’s gloves and hit wicketkeeper Alex Carey.

With Green’s wicket, Australia had the most wickets taken by bowlers in a match since they played the West Indies in Roseau in 2012.

It was only fitting that Green, Lyon, and Hazlewood took the last wickets to ensure Australia’s crushing victory over New Zealand, considering their valiant efforts.

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