New Zealand v Australia, 2nd Test, Christchurch, 2nd day February 21, 2016

Burns, Smith tons help Australia dominate


Australia 363 for 4 (Burns 170, Smith 138, Wagner 2-85) trail New Zealand 370 by seven runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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WATCH - Smith, Burns put Australia in strong position

If day one in Christchurch was unforgettable for its exhilaration, day two was unmistakably about Australian resolve. Steven Smith's team dearly want to return home with the No. 1 Test ranking in their possession, and a day's relentless batting at Hagley Oval was a long stride towards doing so.

Brendon McCullum's world record had been that of the breathtaking daredevil, but the 289-run partnership between Smith and Joe Burns that stretched across the vast majority of play was something far sturdier, less explosion than construction. Even if the surface had flattened out considerably, both batsmen had to fight throughout against doughty bowling and McCullum's ever-changing plans.

One of his last brainstorms resulted in a pair of belated wickets, accounting for Burns and Smith on the pull shot. Those wickets detracted somewhat from Australia's day, and left New Zealand with a glimmer of hope should they be able to cut through the middle order in the morning.

Smith's innings was marked by physical courage as well as mental application. Midway through the day he was struck painfully in the stomach and in Neil Wagner's last over before tea Smith reeled after ducking into a bouncer. Shaken but unmoved, he faced up to the next ball and played a game pull shot.

For Burns it was a first overseas century and a key marker of his progress as a member of the Australian top order - the sort of innings his predecessor Chris Rogers would have been proud to call his own. Smith meanwhile built another innings redolent of a leader, following up from his scene-setting 71 in Wellington. New Zealand started this tour seeming to have good idea of how to bowl at Smith, but he has ground them down admirably.

New Zealand had entered the day knowing they needed to take advantage of a still newish ball and any remaining moisture in the pitch with quick wickets, and the early loss of Usman Khawaja gave them hope. But Burns and Smith combined in a steely stand that absorbed much of what McCullum's men hurled at them.

In the day's early overs, the finest hint of movement was evident, and after getting underway with a neat square cut, Khawaja was defeated by a Trent Boult delivery that straightened down the line, caught the edge and was well held by McCullum in the slips cordon.

That wicket put a spring in New Zealand steps, and both Burns and Smith had to endure plenty of testing deliveries in the next hour. Burns came within a centimetre or so of being out when he tried to leave a prancing delivery from Matt Henry.

New Zealand went up in a unanimous and convincing appeal, the umpire's finger was raised, and Burns immediately reviewed, walking down the wicket with a shake of the head. Replays showed the ball had grazed his shirt rather than glove, and the third umpire Richard Illingworth relayed an overturned verdict.

That moment seemed to ease some of the tension, and from there Burns and Smith freed up with a handful of attractive strokes. There were still uncomfortable moments, epitomised by Smith receiving a painful blow to the midriff when trying to pull Boult, but by lunch Australia had done much of the hard work.

Smith moved swiftly to his fifty when the afternoon began, but the majority of the session was taken up by hard graft. Over and around the wicket, straight fields and square, short balls and full, New Zealand probed every possible avenue on what had become a pleasant batting surface, but Burns and Smith were unmoved.

Eventually, Burns reached 96 and went to three figures with an edge guided safely along the ground to the third-man boundary. His hearty celebrations were replaced by obvious concern when Smith was felled by Wagner, before the captain dusted himself off and resumed his calm occupation in the evening session.

Surely enough, Smith went to his century with a slice behind point, clenching his fist with considerable passion at the milestone. So safe did he and Burns look that an unbroken stand at stumps seemed a likely possibility until Wagner and McCullum plotted another short-ball attack.

Drained by their innings, Burns and then Smith both fell to this somewhat obvious trap, rolling their wrists to swivel balls straight to Martin Guptill at backward square leg. Adam Voges and the nightwatchman Nathan Lyon fought through to stumps, and will have more to do tomorrow.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Benjamin on February 22, 2016, 1:33 GMT

    @MODERNUMPIRESPLZ I think you are missing the point I am making, yes he was , lucky/extremely lucky and that was a point I could have agreed on with MAHA_VENKITA. However Australia still had to get him out and they didn't for quite some time, the runs were still on the board. MAHA_VENKITA said his innings wasn't as good because of the situation of the game (perhaps read his comment I was responding to before writing a paragraph on my comment of 'amount of luck', as that had no relevance to the initial comment of MAHA_VENKITA ). My point was the situation in which McCullum made the fastest test century was more impressive, NZ were in a lot of trouble so to play that way was a greater risk. Where the innings MAHA_VENKITA spoke of, the batsmen were looking for quick runs, not necessarily in bad situations.

  • Xiong on February 22, 2016, 0:06 GMT

    @srinath555 We were only discussing tests... You know, the thing that Australia are playing against NZ right now. The thing where Smith is the #1 batsman, Root is #2 and Williamson is #3. Kohli isn't even the highest ranked test batsman in his own team, Rahane has him covered both in rank and technique. He can score as many ODI centuries as he wants, doesn't make him a better test player.

  • Rex on February 21, 2016, 23:57 GMT

    BlackCapsBestintheWorld Yes they are. At finding excuses. The national motto must surely be "Yes but if". Same pitch conditions as Wellington. NZ lose 20 wickets Australia 10.

  • Momin on February 21, 2016, 23:50 GMT

    In indian conditions kohli score runs easily bcoz bowlers nothing can do on those type of wickets. In overseas every bowler have chance to get the opposition batsman out like KW, SS, JR etc. my word is dont compare

  • Pratik on February 21, 2016, 22:58 GMT

    @BlackCapsBestintheWorld: You lost the toss. u would have to bowl second anyways. Australia were already shocked by mccullum's knock. after taking the control of the game, while Baz and anderson were batting, pitch had already eased relatively. My point is at 250/5 state, they should have thought about spending the time in the middle and grinding the opposition. i don't think it was that difficult. 370 in 2 sessions or 550 in 4 and half? you pick

  • Keith on February 21, 2016, 22:39 GMT

    Trigger warning: I am not a Brendon McCullum supporter, at least in Tests. -- It takes a great deal for me to say something nice about Aussie, but McCullum has put me in a very rare mood. I enjoyed not one minute of his record century, simply because he thumbed his nose at the strategy and purpose of Test Cricket while he was doing it. It was all done in the service of one man's farewell Test, to show off. Worst of all, it was ineffective. By not using up more time, it gave a proper Test side an open invitation to bat properly and bury NZ. Perhaps David Warner is too much in McCullum's mould -- time will tell -- but Burns & captain Smith certainly aren't. At the moment, NZ is being steadily beaten about the head and shoulders by a night watchman. That is a fitting testament. If NZ is fortunate, the McCullum era will be like a cheap romance -- exciting, but abandoned in favour of solid family values.

  • Pratik on February 21, 2016, 22:27 GMT

    A #11 aussie is showing the kiwis how to play test cricket. Such a shame. Hopefully NZ tailenders cricketers are watching Lyon and feeling disgusted

  • Sanjay on February 21, 2016, 21:42 GMT

    Firstly a well played knock by BMac. A great way to finish off the test career. Well done Joe Burns and you have made me eat humble pie. Loved the way you left many balls outside off stump. Smithy a top class knock wih the team needing you. Both Burns and Smith played classical test knocks. NZ will rue not having a spinner. Sodhi should have played instead of Henry. Coach Hesson might have to rethink his strategy on wanting very green tops. Guptill continues to be an issue at the top of the order. Finally for the many Indian supporters who knock the aussie batsmen especially Smith, it is obvious you can't appreciate good cricket. This is not and never has been a competition of Kohli vs Smith. Last time I saw it was a contest between Aus vs NZ. It was nice to see Smith dig in and play a captain's knock. Do feel that all 3 centurions in this test match should be applauded.

  • Graham on February 21, 2016, 21:32 GMT

    Its great being Australian you lose two tosses in the UAE and everyone happy to talk up the whitewash etc but win two tosses in NZ and were just lucky. You cant have it both way people. Also pitches dont miraculously become featherbeds they just get easier with time at the crease. Burns and Smith spent significant time leaving the ball and the first hour plus was not the easiest for batting. They deserve their kudos here as they were exceptional.

  • Bob on February 21, 2016, 21:08 GMT

    When BigMac bats I can't wait to see the aussie trundlers get hammered around the park again.

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