Blackcaps v Australia: Early dropped catch proves costly as Australia hold on for test victory over New Zealand in Christchurch

An unbeaten 98 from Alex Carey and a crucial dropped catch by Rachin Ravindra have proved to be the difference as Australia claimed the second test match in Christchurch by three wickets.    

It's a devastating result for the Blackcaps, who were in a prime position to claim their first test win over the current World Test Champions since 2011. Instead, they will be left ruing missed opportunities as they lose the series to their trans-Tasman rivals 2-0.    

After a small rain delay paused the start of play at Hagley Oval, the test match restarted on day four with a hiss and a roar.    

After adding just one run to his score of 28, Mitchell Marsh padded a Tim Southee delivery towards Rachin Ravindra on the second ball of his first over.    

However, the rising star was unable to hold on to what should have been a simple dismissal, giving the all-rounder a second chance in the innings.   

Rachin Ravindra fields the ball.
Rachin Ravindra fields the ball. Photo credit: Getty Images

Then on the very next ball, Tim Southee did the wicket he deserved, dismissing Travis Head when he too hit a wayward shot towards a fielder. Will Young did a better job than his teammate, holding on to the catch to get the Kiwis off to a fantastic start.  

Southee claiming Ravindra's drop wasn't the turning point in the match.

"Guys don’t mean to drop catches, everyone works hard on their fielding,"  the New Zealand captain said post-match.

"Obviously that one went down early in the day but and if you take that you don’t get the wicket the next ball and who’s to say he [Head] doesn’t have an innings like Marsh."

Head's wicket brought Carey to the crease at 5-80.   

With the pressure on his side, he didn't take long to swing momentum back towards Australia, as he and Marsh started to attack the New Zealand bowlers. Both batters surpassed 50 runs as they built the most impressive partnership of the test so far.   

The Kiwis did come close to breaking their partnership plenty of times. Carey was given out for LBW after a Matt Henry delivery, however, his review revealed the ball was heading down legside without hitting the wickets.    

Then, in the final over before lunch, Marsh had yet another lucky escape when a huge Glen Phillips LBW shout was turned down, with New Zealand quickly reviewing.     

That review ended in a razor-thin DRS decision where the third umpire deemed the ball just hit Marsh's bat before hitting his front foot due to a tiny spike on Ultra Edge. However, some questioned whether the small spike was from the bat hitting the foot rather than the ball.    

Meanwhile, Marsh's and Carey's 140-run partnership looked like a game-winner as the Blackcaps' hopes of a historic test win were slowly slipping away.   

Step in debutant Ben Sears.    

The Wellingtonian ignited Kiwi hops with the wicket of Marsh, who had piled on a further 52 runs since the Ravindra drop, before striking again with his very next ball to send Mitchell Starc back to the pavilion without troubling the score.  

Ben Sears celebrates after dismissing Australia's Mitchell Starc.
Ben Sears celebrates after dismissing Australia's Mitchell Starc. Photo credit: Getty Images

The double strike gave New Zealand hope, Australia needing 59 runs with now just three wickets in hand.   

But unfortunately for the Blackcaps and their fans, those wickets would prove to be New Zealand's final counterpunch of the test, as Carey and captain Pat Cummins guided their side to victory.   

Carey finishing on 98 not out.    

After having Australia down four wickets with just 34 runs on the board on day three, the Blackcaps will know they let another fantastic chance slip away.