Joe Burns has one last opportunity to cement his Test place | Australia v New Zealand 2019-20
Australia is clearly in the driver's seat in the third Test against New Zealand in Sydney. Nathan Lyon bowled brilliantly to pick up a five-for and helped Aussies bundle out Kiwis for just 251. Earlier Australia has posted 454 in their first innings, courtesy a spectacular double hundred from Marnus Labuschagne. With a lead of 243 runs and with all 10 wickets intact, Australia is in a commanding position to wrap up the Test and whitewash New Zealand 3-0.
Throughout the course of this series, there had been several individual performances that had helped the Australians impose complete dominance over New Zealand. Be it Labuschagne's swashbuckling hundreds, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc's timely strikes, Travis Head's hardworking century or the useful contributions from skipper Tim Paine and Steve Smith, the Australians have had gained ascendancy in all the aspects of the game.
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However, one major area of concern for the Aussies in this series is their opening wicket partnership. Out of five innings in this series, David Warner and Joe Burns have managed to stitch just one partnership over 50. It was always left to the middle-order batsmen to steady the ship and propel the team's score. It has particularly been a tough tour for Joe Burns. Out of five innings so far, Burns has managed to score just 131 runs* with a solitary half-century and a below-par average of 26.2. Burns has struggled to get his feet moving and he has time and again succumbed to the full-length deliveries from Trent Boult and Colin de Grandhomme.
His last century came against Sri Lanka in 2019. Burns scored an aggressive 180 and helped Australia register a comfortable victory. However, since then, Burns has managed to cross 50 just twice out of 16 innings. With Australia having a terrific summer, registering Test series wins against Pakistan and New Zealand, it would certainly augur well for the team if Burns steps up and plays a useful innings. Right now, he just has one last opportunity left against the Kiwis. He is 16* off 40 balls and needs a big score in the Australian second innings. If he manages to score well then it is highly likely that he would get an extended run. If he fails to make his chance count, then there are other batsmen like Marcus Harris, Matt Renshaw and Cameron Bancroft who are waiting to take his place in the baggy green colours.
(* The statistics are mentioned as on 5th January 2020 after the third day's play of the third Test between Australia and New Zealand.)