Australia 16 run short of No. 1 ranking

Australia 505 and 185 for 3 (Smith 47*, Voges 0*) need another 16 runs to beat New Zealand 370 and 335
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It wasn’t easy for Joe Burns, but he battled through © Getty Images

A few uncomfortable moments aside, Australia closed rapidly upon their target of 201 to defeat New Zealand and claim the world No. 1 Test match ranking on the final morning of the second Test, at Hagley Oval.

A determined Joe Burns and a debonair Steven Smith made significant inroads into the tally required in the half hour before lunch after Usman Khawaja’s prolific Test summer was ended when on 45.

New Zealand’s effort was never less than wholehearted, epitomised by Neil Wagner’s continued bouncer assault on the tourists, despite carrying what had been revealed to be a broken left hand from a Burns shot that burst through his fingers on the fourth evening.

Even so, it was occasionally puzzling to see New Zealand not really trying to generate pressure through disciplined lines and reverse swing, which Matt Henry in particular was able to find. Smith relished the challenge of matching McCullum’s outlandish field settings with creativity of his own.

Khawaja had a fortunate escape in the second over of the morning, edging Trent Boult precisely between the wicketkeeper and a wide sole slip. Apart from that he accumulated his runs in calm style.

Batting was more of a struggle for Burns, who was struck one glancing blow on the helmet by Wagner and others on the body. He took 35 minutes of play to add to his overnight score, but refused to be flustered and eventually went to a deserved fifty.

Tim Southee’s entry to the attack brought another Khawaja edge, this time held smartly by McCullum above his head. Smith arrived to one last display of lateral captaincy from New Zealand’s retiring leader, a packed leg side field and another short ball attack.

Having been hit hard by a bouncer in the first innings, Smith resolved to attack, and boldly hooked his first short ball from Wagner over the head of the man at fine leg. He used the full width of the crease to open up other scoring zones, and was soon bringing the target well within reach.

After speaking with the umpires, Smith took the opportunity for an extra 15 minutes to try to seal the game without breaking for lunch. Burns rose to the challenge with a pair of boundaries before being bowled by Boult when going for a third, leaving Smith to concede the job could not be done before the interval.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

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Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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