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Cricket

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Wagner sends Australia another warning

New Zealand paceman Neil Wagner has delivered Australia one more reminder of the lion-hearted weaponry he'll bring to the upcoming Test series.

Implacable left-armer Wagner unleashed some venom at the end of England's first innings in the second Test in Hamilton on Monday to lodge figures of 5-124.

Short in stature but ruthless by nature, the 33-year-old has bagged five wickets in an innings in each of his last four Tests.

Tim Paine's men may also note that Wagner's last 33 scalps have been claimed at an average of 16.4, making the Pretoria-born firebrand the most threatening element in New Zealand's attack for the three-Test series starting in Perth next week.

Wagner has been a frequent over-achiever for five years but his most recent success has hoisted him to third in the ICC bowling rankings behind Pat Cummins and South African Kagiso Rabada, who both bowler considerably quicker than the Kiwi.

Wagner's potency lies in his aggression - his short ball can be a nightmare because of its awkward lower trajectory - and a tireless methodology.

Wickets often fall late in his trademark long spells, with his effort rarely dropping. There's unlikely to be any let-up in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney when Wagner makes his first international appearances on Australian soil.

"To get that reward shows I've been doing something right in the last while, which is pretty pleasing," he told Radio Sport after play on Monday.

"It never gets easy. Every game is bloody hard graft and it's going to be the same every other Test match (in Australia). You've got to put your head down and kept taking those experiences in."

Wagner's lone Test against Australia came in the seven-wicket loss at Christchurch's Hagley Oval nearly four years ago.

He scrapped to record first-innings figures of 6-106, eventually knocking over the three highest scorers - centurions Joe Burns and Steve Smith, along with Adam Voges - before running through the tail.

With Trent Boult an injury doubt for the Perth day-night Test, Wagner looms as a critical and inspirational figure for the Kiwis.

--End of article--

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