After the Test at Nagpur between India and South finished inside three days, the match between Australia and New Zealand – the first day night Test encounter played with the pink ball, also finished on day three. Like at Nagpur, this two was a low-scoring encounter, with Australia doing marginally better to outshine the Kiwis, who fought hard, but could not do enough to win the Test, and square the series. Luck also did not go their way, the Nathan Lyon decision making a significant impact. Here’s a look at five crucial performances which helped the Aussies outdo the New Zealanders.
Josh Hazlewoood: With Mitchell Johnson having retired, Mitchell Starc was expected to be the dangerman for New Zealand. And, while Starc played his part in the victory, it was Hazlewood who played the lead role for Australia with the ball. Australia had gained a slender lead in the first innings, and New Zealand had a chance to fight back, but Hazlewood put Australia ahead with his six-for. He picked up big wickets, including those of openers Tom Latham, Martin Guptill and the massive one of Ross Taylor. Hazlewood had also claimed three wickets in the first innings to be the easy choice for man of the match.
Peter Nevill: The Aussie wicket-keeper made the highest individual score in the match. He made 66 from 110 balls, with the help of eight fours, batting at number seven. Nevill occupied the crease for 140 minutes. It was thanks to Nevill that Australia managed to cross the 200-mark, and ensure that Australia remained in the game.
Steven Smith: In a match that saw only three half-centuries, Smith got one of them. The Aussie skipper made 53 from 114 balls with the aid of five boundaries. Smith’s knock was important since Australia were constantly losing wickets at the other end. They had lost half their side for 80, but Smith held one end up, and was dismissed after Australia had crossed the 100 mark.
Nathan Lyon: People will remember this knock, unfortunately for the wrong reasons. Lyon was on nought when he swept Mitchell Santner, who got an edge, and was caught in the slip. The decision was referred to the third umpire Nigel Llong who, to the horror of all, gave it not out. Lyon went on to make 34 from 49 balls with three fours and a six, and shared a 74-run stand with Nevill, which changed the complexion of the game.
Shaun Marsh: Under pressure, Marsh played a crucial knock in his comeback Test. As Australia chased 187, they crumbled to 66 for 3. David Warner had made 35 at the top of the innings, but it was Marsh’s knock that ensured Australia got home even as wickets kept falling from the other end. Marsh top scored with 49 in the fourth innings. He played 117 balls and hit six fours as Australia scampered home with three wickets even as Trent Boult claimed five wickets.
--By A Cricket Analyst