New Zealand fought hard with bat and ball on a heated fourth day of the second Test but Australia remain well placed to claim victory and the No1 Test ranking.
Australia finished 70-1 at stumps on Tuesday, having been set a victory target of 201 in Christchurch.
If Australia is to secure the title of world’s best Test team they will be forced to cool their heels, as well as their fraying frustrations after New Zealand’s stubborn batting pushed the deciding Test into the fifth day.
Knowing that a win or a draw will land them the ICC’s top Test ranking and the associated booty that comes with the crown, Australia return to Christchurch’s Hagley Oval tomorrow morning needing 131 runs to formalise the former.
Or batting through the minimum of 90 overs without surrendering their final nine wickets to secure the latter, an unimaginable scenario given a warm and sunny day is expected to shine down on the benign pitch in the Garden City.
Although Australia are in a commanding position, New Zealand all-rounder Anderson said his side lived in hope.
“Hopefully we can go ‘bang bang’ and then potentially run through them,” he said.
Though Australia have been dominant for much of the Test, New Zealand put up a valiant fight with two century partnerships as they battled to save the contest.
Williamson made 97 when adding 102 for the fifth wicket with Anderson.
The loss of Anderson for 40 was the start of a triple Bird strike that claimed three wickets in six balls.
Williamson and Tim Southee also fell before BJ Watling and Henry mounted rearguard resistance, adding 118 for the eighth wicket.
Courtesy: Daily Mail, Guardian, Cricket.com.au