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Australia wins 2nd test by 247 runs to clinch series vs NZ

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Tim Paine boasted of his bowling attack’s “absolute firepower” after Australia beat New Zealand by 247 runs with a day to spare in the second test to clinch the three-match series.

Australia set New Zealand a target for 488 to win on Sunday, and fast bowler James Pattinson (3-35) did the early damage to propel the home team toward victory. He tore though New Zealand’s top-order batting, including dismissing Kane Williamson lbw for a duck and Ross Taylor bowled for two.

Off-spinner Nathan Lyon took four crucial wickets to help steer Paine’s lineup to an unbeatable lead in the three-match series, which concludes with the Sydney test starting Friday. New Zealand was bowled out for 240 in its second innings in 71 overs, after being skittled for 148 in its first innings as it slipped to back-to-back defeats.

New Zealand had few contributors, although pace bowler Neil Wagner took seven wickets off 55.2 overs in another hearty display. Tom Blundell also provided what skipper Williamson described as a “silver lining. Thrust into the opening role, he scored a stylish 121, his second century in three tests, having played two tests in 2017 batting at No. 8.

Resuming on day four on 137-4, Australia declared its second innings closed at 168-5, an overall lead of 487. New Zealand lost three wickets for three runs in a top-order collapse as Pattinson struck three times in two overs, leaving Williamson’s lineup in a desperate position at 38-3 at lunch.

Williamson, ranked among the top three batsmen in test cricket, has scored 34, 14, nine and a duck in the series. Blundell shared half-century partnerships with Henry Nicholls (33) and BJ Watling (22) to revive the innings.

Lyon had Nicholls neatly stumped by Paine at 89-4 and then had Watling caught at leg slip at 161-5, ending an entertaining 72-run stand. Colin de Grandhomme (9), Mitch Santner (27) and Tim Southee (two) were unable to take the game into a fifth day, and injured tailender Trent Boult did not bat because of a fractured hand, which will keep him out of the Sydney test.

Blundell, who struck 15 fours off 210 deliveries and was prepared to take on the short ball, was last man out, caught by Lyon at mid-on. The Australian attack dominated in Melbourne, with Pat Cummins (5-28), Pattinson (3-34) and Mitchell Starc (2-20) ripping through New Zealand in its first innings on Saturday. That bowling performance followed Australia’s imposing first-innings total of 467 including man-of-the-match Travis Head’s 114.

The Boxing Day test, New Zealand’s first at the M.C.G. since 1987, attracted a crowd of 203,472 in four days of play. Williamson and Paine both paid tribute to Australia’s bowling attack and said staying accurate for long periods was the key to success on a pitch like the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Pattinson, returning to the Australian attack on his home ground in the absence of injured seamer Josh Hazlewood, took match figures of 6-69. “He was awesome today in particular but he also bowled superbly in the first innings,” Paine said. “Today when it was his turn to step up, he provided the team with a spark.

“We’ve got some absolute firepower with the ball. All of them are going to have their day in the sun.” Williamson said Australia's pace attack, with Pattinson joining Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, expertly utilized the conditions.

“Their accuracy was the thing that perhaps stood out,” Williamson said. “Their bowlers certainly came in and hit the wicket hard and bowled exceptionally well. “We had opportunities early from winning the toss (and bowling first). It was probably a missed trick there."

The Boxing Day test, New Zealand’s first at the M.C.G. since 1987, attracted a crowd of 203,472 in four days of play. More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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