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Cricket: Black Caps crushed in first test

New Zealand's record-equalling 13 undefeated test reign at home is over.

Like a self-assured arm wrestler, Australian eyes locked on the Black Caps, steadily flexed their muscles and crushed them out of the first test.

The visitors won by an innings and 52 runs after dismissing New Zealand for 327 in their second innings and cannot lose the series when the second test starts in Christchurch on Saturday.

The match was over midway through the fourth day after New Zealand's lower order again showed pluck. Tim Southee (48 off 23 balls) and Mark Craig (33 not out) added 59 runs off 54 balls for the ninth wicket. Southee pasted three sixes and five fours as a crowd consolation prize. He now has the most sixes for a No.9 or No.10 batsman in test cricket.

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However, with a top score across both innings of 63 from opener Tom Latham, no New Zealander demonstrated anywhere near enough application to foot it with the new world No.1s.

The chances of surviving and advancing, as occurred in their previous two visits to the venue against India and Sri Lanka, always looked slim.

The only other time New Zealand have produced such a 13-test streak without a loss was between March 1987 and January 1992.

In his 100th consecutive test from debut, captain Brendon McCullum extended his world record but this match was anything but an appropriate tribute to his achievement in the job since December 2012.

McCullum personified dejection as he traipsed from the wicket after getting dismissed lbw for 10 at stumps on the third day. Finding the motivation for a final hurrah in his adopted home city of Christchurch could be difficult.

McCullum seems to be under almost an unofficial contract to play, given the marketing campaign surrounding his farewell tour. His back looks to be ailing him but he has signed to play T20 franchise cricket in India, England and the West Indies this year, so suggestions he is struggling could be premature.

The hosts started the day at 178-4, lost Corey Anderson for a duck, but had Henry Nicholls and B-J Watling eke out 34 runs in the first hour.

Nathan Lyon provided the key breakthrough after drinks. With fielders surrounding the bat, Watling looked cramped on the crease. As Lyon's off-spinner turned, Watling played around it. An inside edge clattered into the stumps.

Lyon finished with Australia's best figures for the innings (four for 91) and for the match (seven for 123).

Seeing Watling trudge back for 10 brought the scent of defeat. It sent a message that if a double world-record sixth wicket partnership holder can't do it, as he has done with centuries in his last two appearances at the ground, few can.

Other than two overthrow fives, there was little mercy from Australia as they built the foundations towards retaining their status as best in the world.

Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Marsh, Jackson Bird and Lyon each kept the pressure on.

Until the arrival of the second new ball in the 89th over, the pace bowlers exploited reverse swing which planted seeds of doubt in batting minds, despite the excellent pitch conditions. Peter Siddle didn't bowl due to ongoing back spasms.

Nicholls provided the spine to New Zealand's display but by the time Bird yorked him for 59 off 134 balls, the day's narrative looked cast.

His maiden test half-century held a gem of a statistic, too. It was the highest score by a New Zealand No.4 batsman on debut, surpassing Matt Poore's 45 v South Africa in 1952-53.

Nicholls' application also raises questions over selection if Ross Taylor is declared fit for the final test in Christchurch starting on Saturday.


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