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Australia sneaks home after weathering Boult storm

Host rides on starring performances from Hazlewood and Shaun Marsh to win pink-ball Test by three wickets

Australia sneaks home after weathering Boult storm - Cricket News
A six-wicket haul from a young man who could be Australia’s bowling metronome for years to come, and an assured innings from an object of ridicule were the inspiration for a tense Australian victory in the first day-night Test. Set 187 for victory after Josh Hazlewood had taken 6 for 70, Australia edged home with just three wickets in hand, thanks largely to Shaun Marsh’s composed 49.
As many as 33,923 streamed in to the Adelaide Oval on Sunday (November 29), taking the three-day aggregate to 123,736. It was safe to say that the pink-ball experiment had been a great success, with every session of play making for an engrossing spectacle. The win also gave Australia the Trans-Tasman Trophy 2-0.
The last five New Zealand wickets having fallen for 92, the players took tea a few minutes early, and David Warner came out looking for runs with the intent that has made him such a devastating second-innings batsman. Tim Southee and Trent Boult struggled initially to find the right length, and Warner capitalised as the runs came in a hurry.
New Zealand needed someone to stem the tide, and that man was Boult, who taken just eight wickets in five previous innings in the series. Pronounced swing into the right-hander accounted for Joe Burns, whose travails with the pink ball continued, and Steven Smith could so easily have followed him if BJ Watling had managed to get his glove under a thick outside edge while diving to his right.
Smith was then on one, and he had added just another to his score when Doug Bracewell tempted him into a miscued pull. The ball soared into the late-afternoon sky, and with the sun in his eyes, Mitchell Santner made a hash of the chance.
Warner had progressed to 35 in just 36 balls when Bracewell, the pick of the bowlers in the first innings, got him to prod at a rising delivery. Southee took the edge at second slip, but there was drama as Warner trudged off, with replays suggesting that Bracewell’s foot hadn’t been behind the crease.
Smith, who never looked anything other than skittish, followed in Warner’s wake when Boult thudded one into the pads. The umpire’s finger went up, and Smith went for the review. But with the replays showing the ball just about trimming the bails, the decision was upheld.
At that stage, the odds were in New Zealand’s favour. But once Southee and Mark Craig replaced Boult and Bracewell, the pressure on the batsmen started to ease. Runs didn’t come all that easily, but the menace disappeared, and Shaun Marsh and Adam Voges rebuilt steadily, taking the score to 113 for 3 by the dinner interval. 

Over the three days, though, the night session had been the most challenging for batting, and it took New Zealand just eight balls to tighten the screws. Voges was the man to go, edging to second slip to give Boult his third of the innings. That left Australia’s fate in the hands of the Marsh brothers, both of whom had question marks over their immediate Test futures.
But if they were under pressure, it certainly didn’t show. Shaun, the older brother, worked the ball deftly off his pads, and Mitchell drove crisply through the covers as they whittled away at the target. With pace not providing the breakthrough, Brendon McCullum turned to the left-arm spin of Santner, the debutant. Mitchell launched one over long-off for six, but an attempted encore over midwicket was superbly taken on the run by Kane Williamson at mid-on.
But Shaun, whose tendency to be dismissed cheaply had provoked Ian Chappell into comparing him with Glenn McGrath and Danny Morrison, was undaunted, stroking a couple of magnificent straight drives as Australia edged ever nearer under the floodlights.
But with the finish line in sight, both he and Peter Nevill went into stroke-less shells. And with the game all but lost, Boult returned to give the expectant crowd further palpitations. First, Shaun hung his bat out at one to edge to slip, and then, with just two needed, Nevill inside-edged behind. Finally, with fingernails bitten to a quick, Peter Siddle, who was wearing an additional black armband after the death of his grandmother, squirted one past point to spark celebrations in the dressing room and the stands.
Realistically, New Zealand needed to bat well into the second session to set a daunting target, and losing Watling to the ninth ball of the day wasn’t part of the plan. Again, the impressive Hazlewood was the man, drawing the edge that Smith, who had dropped two off him the previous evening, caught neatly low to his left.
Craig and Santner kept going for their strokes though, and it was Hazlewood’s ability to land the ball on a teasing length that got Australia the next breakthrough. Craig flirted with one away from the body, and Nevill pouched the chance.
Santner batted with plenty of confidence, getting nicely into line, and there was stout support from Bracewell, who even flicked Siddle for a six over square-leg. Santner, who hadn’t been shy to take on Nathan Lyon’s offspin, smashed one over long-on for six, but a subsequent off-balance shimmy down the pitch presented Nevill with the most perfunctory of stumpings.
Southee flashed away for 13 before pulling Mitchell to Lyon at deep square-leg, and when Boult, whose approach consisted primarily of backing away and having a swing, was cleaned up by Hazlewood, New Zealand was all out for 208. In Mitchell Starc’s absence, and with Siddle below his best, Hazlewood had summoned up the best display of a young career. In the final analysis, it proved to be the difference.

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