Australia stand on the verge of a 2-0 series cleansweep and the world No.1 Test ranking heading into the final day of the second Test against New Zealand, despite a largely frustrating and testy Tuesday at Hagley Oval.
The tourists reached 1/70 at stumps in pursuit of their 201 victory target after the Black Caps doggedly built a competitive lead, grinding their way from an overnight score of 4/121 to finally be all out for 335.
Corey Anderson (40) and Kane Williamson (97) valiantly survived a fascinating opening session, which included a couple of dropped catches and several close calls.
The flashpoint moment occurred in the final over before lunch when Josh Hazlewood looked to have Williamson lbw. Australia referred the decision after a not-out call by the on-field umpire, and the third umpire detected a faint edge.
When the correct not-out decision came back, a livid Steve Smith advanced on the umpire, while Hazlewood went on an expletive-laden rant.
The aggravated visitors belatedly made some inroads shortly after lunch through Jackson Bird, who claimed Anderson, Williamson and Tim Southee (0) in the space of nine deliveries to leave the Kiwis at 7/210.
But there was more irritation in store for the Aussies as BJ Watling (46) and Matt Henry (66) put on an innings-high 118-run partnership for the eighth wicket. Big-hitting No.9 Henry was particularly impressive, plundering 12 boundaries in his 93-ball knock after the home side had been pinned down for most of the day.
James Pattinson made the breakthrough by removing Watling to grab his fourth wicket of the innings, and New Zealand’s rearguard action was quelled less than four over later as Bird knocked over Henry and Trent Boult (0) to finish with career-best figures of 5/59.
Joe Burns (27 not out) and David Warner (22) got Australia’s chase off to a quick start thanks to some loose bowling and confident stroke-play, but first-innings destroyer Neil Wagner had Warner caught-behind to give the Kiwis a glimmer of hope.
Burns and Usman Khawaja (19 not out) saw the tourists through to stumps with no further casualties, and needing just another 131 runs with nine wickets in hand to clinch another impressive Test victory – and the coveted No.1 mantle.
Hazlewood was later fined 15 percent of his match fee for his blow-up, pleading guilty to dissent in an incident that unfortunately overshadowed the day’s play.
Guilty of dissent.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) February 23, 2016
-Kane Williamson reached the 4,000-run milestone in fewer innings (89) and at a younger age (25 years and 199 days) than any New Zealander in Test history.