Australia vs New Zealand 2nd Test: Henry and Sears Charge for Historic Victory

Matt Henry and Ben Sears spearheaded New Zealand’s gripping assault on Australia’s uncertain top-order, igniting hopes of a monumental win.

As the second Test at Hagley Oval teetered on a knife’s edge, Henry and Sears‘ blistering performance left the match delicately poised for a riveting conclusion.

Australia vs New Zealand 2nd Test: Henry and Sears Charge for Historic Victory

New Zealand 162 and 372 (Ravindra 82, Latham 73, Cummins 4-64, Lyon 3-49), Australia with 256 and 77 for 4 (Head 17*, Marsh 27*) needs 202 more runs to win.

On a thrilling third day at Hagley Oval, Matt Henry and Ben Sears tore through Australia’s faltering top-order, but Mitchell Marsh and Travis Head stopped New Zealand’s advance, leaving the second Test in a precarious position.
Australia were in disarray at 34 for 4, needing 279 runs to win the series 2-0, with Steven Smith, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, and Cameron Green all falling cheaply. However, Marsh and Head put up a solid 43-run partnership to help Australia reach 77 for 4 at stumps; they still need 202 runs to win.

Henry appeared to have New Zealand’s best chance after taking 15 wickets in three innings during the series, but Khawaja rejected his massive caught behind claim with his first delivery.

But Henry quickly made his first breakthrough, trapping a stumbling Smith for a nine-run lead. Smith reviewed in the eleventh hour, but the call stood, and he finished his modest series total of 51 runs at a 12.75 batting average as attention focused more and more on his move up the order.

After coming onto the field in the ninth over, Sears made an impressive start. On his second delivery, he had Labuschagne edge to first slip, but Daryl Mitchell dropped a catch low to his right. However, it did not cost them a run, as Labuschagne offered Sears a return catch two balls later after he was unable to control a raising delivery.

When Khawaja passed Henry to Tim Southee, who held a breathtaking take low to his left in the slips, New Zealand was in full swing. When Green scored a goal against an energized Sears, Australia’s collapse was complete, and they celebrated heartily.

Marsh, having been dismissed twice before, came to the crease after smashing a first-ball boundary. He was unfazed by the situation and courageously counterattacked. Marsh and Head, who were forced to play conservatively before the close, hold the lion’s share of the hope for Australia.

Australia vs New Zealand 2nd Test: Henry and Sears Charge for Historic Victory

Batting against the older ball was looking easier in what had been a bowler-dominated series, with the new ball doing most of the damage.
Only 13 times in their history has Australia pursued 279 runs or more, the most recent being at Edgbaston during the Ashes last year.

They had earlier curtailed New Zealand’s lead with an outstanding bowling effort by Pat Cummins. Glenn Phillips and Scott Kuggeleijn combined for 53 runs at the seventh wicket to put New Zealand ahead by over 300 runs. However, soon after tea, they collapsed and lost 4 for 23, getting bowled out for 372.

Nathan Lyon showed great turn after the break to cut through the lower order with three wickets, but Cummins was the real star with 4 for 62.
Alex Carey, the wicketkeeper, tied an Australian record by being dismissed ten times throughout the game.

New Zealand have rallied since being bowled for just 162 on the opening day of the Test to win just their second Test match against Australia in the previous thirty years.

When Mitchell and Rachin Ravindra shared the highest stand of the series at four wickets, scoring 123 runs between them, it seemed as though New Zealand was in the ascendancy.

Also Read: Green’s Hits a Stellar Century Against New Zealand’s Fiery Attack

But soon after Australia grabbed the second new ball, the game changed. Josh Hazlewood dismissed Mitchell for 58, and then, on Cummins’s first ball of the new term, Ravindra was caught behind a stunning short-of-a-length delivery to fall for 82.

After Tom Blundell was horribly dismissed for a short-and-wide delivery from Green to cover, New Zealand collapsed even more, with Labuschagne making a fine grab while diving to his left.

Australia vs New Zealand 2nd Test: Henry and Sears Charge for Historic Victory

After the dismissal, Green covered his mouth sheepishly, but he was soon left fuming when Labuschagne, diving low to his left at third slip, spilt Kuggeleijn. Kuggeleijn was the final batter to be removed after making them pay with a crucial 44.

Before this innings, Cummins had only taken two wickets in the series. However, he bent his back and once again demonstrated his ability to create havoc on flat surfaces.

Also Read: Marsh and Green Lead Revival in Basin Reserve Test 2024

Cummins took the only wicket of the morning session when he removed opener Tom Latham for 73, capping an amazing spell late on day two in which he won the crucial wicket of Kane Williamson for 51.

Should they ultimately fail, New Zealand may regret the failure of four of its elite batters to turn fifty-five into centuries. Resuming at 134 for 2, Latham had surpassed his best previous score of 63 and was aiming for his first Test century against Australia.

However, Cummins, bowling from around the wicket, slashed through him with a delivery that reared sharply off the surface, ending his attempt to get the elusive century against Australia. Though there was only a feeble protest from beyond the wicket, it looked to take Latham on the back pad. Cummins, sensibly, elected to review after speaking with Carey.

Australia deployed eight bowlers, and after lunch Cummins had to switch to Head and Labuschagne due to the outstanding combination between Ravindra and Mitchell. Labuschagne unfurled his seamers just before the second new ball and concentrated on bowling short at velocities of up to 130 kph. The move nearly worked like a charm when Ravindra top-edged just shy of long-leg.

Following that really entertaining interlude, Australia took the second new ball, which worked, but the turns and twists kept building into a spectacular finale.

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