CHRISTCHURCH (Reuters) - Two late wickets had been reward for tough graft in unhelpful conditions, New Zealand pace bowler Neil Wagner said after Australia put themselves in the box seat by the end of the second day’s play of the second test on Sunday.
Australia were 363 for four at the close, seven runs behind New Zealand’s first innings total, after Joe Burns scored 170 and captain Steve Smith 138 to drive their side to a strong position.
It could have been even better for the visitors had Wagner not dismissed them in identical circumstances, both pulled short balls to Martin Guptill at square leg, with less than 30 minutes remaining in the day’s play.
”Credit to Steve Smith and Joe Burns the way they batted, they never gave us a chance,“ Wagner said. ”I think we bowled well in patches and periods of time we asked good questions, they just batted really well.
“Two wickets at the end helped us ... (and were) a bit of luck for us that we’ve been trying to get all day.”
Wagner said the weather conditions, a cloudless day with strong sun and gusty winds had made it virtually impossible to get the ball to swing, seam or spin on the Hagley Oval pitch that dried out and New Zealand simply had to keep plugging away.
“We were still fighting and everyone was saying we’re always only a wicket or two away. I thought the whole day we just kept on hanging on to get that wicket,” Wagner added.
”The mood on the ground was fairly positive. At one stage we didn’t think that whatever we were throwing at them wasn’t working and obviously you just keep trying and keep trying.
“It was just about keeping positive and trying to create that something and it happened and obviously gave us a bit of reward and satisfaction.”
Burns, whose 170 was a career high in test cricket, said he had been disappointed to get out so close to stumps but also pleased that he had executed his batting plan all day, after scoring a duck in the first test in Wellington.
“It was nice to apply myself for long periods and not really change too much from the start of my innings all the way through,” Burns said.
”We just applied really basic game plans for long periods of time, that was the most satisfying thing. Getting towards stumps we talked about how we really wanted to be two down.
“It was a little bit disappointing to be dismissed so late in the day, it changes the game a little bit.”
Editing by Amlan Chakraborty