Australia are well and truly in control of the first day-night Test against New Zealand in Perth after reducing the visitors to 109/5 by stumps for a lead of 307 on the second day.
Australia, resuming on their overnight 248/4, didn’t have a standout performance with the bat on the day, but they added 168 runs to their total to push it to a healthy 416. It was then the turn of the bowlers to have a crack at New Zealand as the evening approached, and the visitors crumbled under lights, with Mitchell Starc running riot to return 4/31.
Only Ross Taylor, and Kane Williamson to an extent, put up a show of resistance for New Zealand. Taylor ended the day at 66* off 86, and New Zealand will hope BJ Watling, much as he has many times before, can offer Taylor some support on the third afternoon.
The day began, however, with all eyes on Marnus Labuschagne, who was on 110 overnight. He had Travis Head for company, and the two began building their partnership, putting on 76 for the fifth wicket. Labuschagne has recently shown a penchant for big scores, but he wasn’t allowed to go too deep into the 100s here, with Neil Wagner getting one through him and clattering the stumps from around the wicket.
Thereafter, it was a case of the Australian batsmen putting on mini-partnerships. Head and Tim Paine, the captain, added 24 for the sixth wicket before Head fell to temptation and flashed outside off against Tim Southee. Paine hung around with Pat Cummins for company, putting on 38 before Cummins became Jeet Raval’s first wicket in Tests, bowled around the legs.
Then, with an adventurous Starc at the other end, Paine added what was a frustrating 45-run stand for New Zealand, but once Starc holed out, the innings didn’t take long to conclude.
Unfortunately for New Zealand, things only got worse from there. They were reduced to 2/1 within the first two overs after Tom Latham returned a catch to Starc, and Jeet Raval was confounded by a Josh Hazlewood inswinger. However, with Hazlewood limping off with an injury, Williamson and Taylor managed to revive the innings.
They put on a much-needed 76 for the third wicket, but as they approached the final stages of the day, New Zealand were once again put under the pump by Starc. He first had Williamson edging one, and Steve Smith took a blinder at slips. Then, Starc had the new man Henry Nicholls caught down leg, before adding the scalp of the nightwatchman Neil Wagner soon after.
New Zealand have a long day ahead.
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