Australia captain Paine lauds Pattinson 'spark' in New Zealand win

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia captain Tim Paine lavished praise on fiery seamer James Pattinson for lighting the spark that led to an emphatic series-sealing victory over New Zealand in the Boxing Day test on Sunday.

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Pattinson, who replaced the injured Josh Hazlewood in Australia’s formidable pace attack, crashed through New Zealand’s top order with a three-wicket burst in nine deliveries in the morning, all but ending the Black Caps’ hopes of saving the match.

He finished with a six-wicket haul in Australia’s 247-run victory and teamed brilliantly with fellow paceman Pat Cummins on a much scrutinised Melbourne Cricket Ground wicket in the first innings.

It was a fine return for the 29-year-old Pattinson who was suspended for a match in the leadup to the earlier two-test series against Pakistan for an offensive sledge at an opponent when playing a Sheffield Shield game for Victoria.

He was subsequently left out of the test team as Cummins, Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc combined with aplomb in the 2-0 series defeat of Pakistan.

However, Paine said his side had “no doubts” Pattinson would slot back in seamlessly after Hazlewood broke down in the series-opener against New Zealand in Perth.

“We know the quality of ‘Patto’, we’ve said for a long time that we’re very lucky to have high quality bowlers on the sidelines such as him,” Paine told reporters.

“I think he was awesome today in particular, but he also bowled superbly in the first innings and built pressure with Pat at times.

“Then today when it was his turn to step up he provided the team with the spark as he does and his energy around our group is infectious.”

Having thrashed New Zealand by 296 runs in Perth, Australia took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series and will head to Sydney looking to whitewash Kane Williamson’s team.

Veteran seamer Peter Siddle will not be a part of the group, having announced his retirement from internationals on Sunday.

Siddle, who took 221 wickets in 67 tests, announced his decision to the players before the start of day four on Sunday, prompting emotional tributes from team mates.

“He left everything out on the field,” said Paine.

“We think he played the game of cricket the way it was meant to be played.

“We spoke to the boys this morning about carrying on his legacy, how much he loved playing for his country, how much it meant to him, and how much his team mates meant to him.”

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Richard Pullin