New Zealand crumble under pace blitz in Boxing Day test

By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australia’s pacemen laid waste to New Zealand’s top batting order to leave the tourists teetering at 102 for six in their reply to the hosts’ first innings of 467 on day three of the Boxing Day test on Saturday.

Opener Tom Latham was 42 not out at the lunch break at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, accompanied by all-rounder Mitchell Santner on one, leaving the tourists still 166 runs short of avoiding the follow-on.

New Zealand began the third day in a vulnerable position at 44 for two, needing Latham and Ross Taylor to pull them to safety.

The Black Caps instead lost three wickets by the morning drinks break in one dizzying hour of furious pace bowling from the rampaging Pat Cummins and James Pattinson.

Cummins struck twice in his second over, removing Taylor for four and Henry Nicholls for a golden duck in consecutive balls.

Taylor sent a thick edge into the slips where Joe Burns clutched a rebound catch off the hands of Marnus Labuschagne.

Lefthander Nicholls then blew a referral trying to overturn an lbw decision after being rapped on the pads.

In the next over Latham was reprieved on nine when he edged Pattinson to the slips. Steve Smith put down a diving chance that he should have let Burns handle at first slip.

Pattinson was quick to shrug off the lost opportunity, banging in a bouncer that left wicketkeeper BJ Watling undone for seven, with Burns taking an easy catch behind the wicket.

All-rounder Colin de Grandhomme stayed for a shaky 11 before finally crumbling after a slew of play-and-miss shots.

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Poking meekly at a short, angled Mitchell Starc delivery, he sent an edge looping to David Warner in the gully to leave New Zealand, who trail 1-0 in the three-match series, in dire straits.

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