Marnus Labuschagne led Australia’s quest of getting to a big score with a double century of his own, even as New Zealand revived themselves in the middle session with a clump of wickets. The visitors bowled Australia out but they were comfortably placed having posted 454 in Sydney at Tea on Day 2.
Labuschagne took his time to get to the landmark, to patiently nudge himself to his maiden double century in Tests. While the bulk of his runs came on the on-side on the opening day of the Test, once New Zealand’s bowlers changed their lines to him he milked the offside with runs coming all over the park on Saturday (January 4). Tim Paine and Labuschagne added 79 runs together before New Zealand struck back with quick wickets on a pitch that was beginning to play tricks.
Paine was undone by a peach from Colin de Grandhomme that nipped back just a little to knock over the Australian captain’s stumps. Labuschagne fell a couple of overs later, handing a return catch to Todd Astle to the leg-break that was tossed up. The batsman committed to the shot too early and ended up lobbing it back to the bowler.
James Pattinson, in bizarre fashion, had the ball drop onto his stumps after it hit him on the shoulder, bounced off the back of his bat and onto the stumps. Pat Cummins perished to an attempted flick that short leg pouched.
Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Starc added 24 crucial runs for the final wicket and took Australia past the 450- run mark. Wagner picked his third wicket when he castled Starc, while de Grandhomme too finished with as many.
New Zealand wasted their only remaining review against Paine earlier, who they thought they had trapped leg before, only to find there was only bat involved. However, they managed to get Travis Head and Matthew Wade. Somerville struck in the first over of play, sending back Wade, who had counterattacked with a quickfire cameo on the opening day, with the bowler breaching the batsman’s defenses to pick up his maiden Test wicket at the SCG.
They were further dealt another setback with confirmation for Matt Henry’s broken thumb. Henry who had been struck by a drive from Joe Burns in the opening session of the Test, left the field for treatment before returning to bowl.
Henry is the third New Zealand pace bowler to be injured on their tour of Australia after Lockie Ferguson and Trent Boult, who suffered a calf strain and a broken hand respectively. Yet, he bowled six overs in the morning session and got Head for 10, eking out a top-edge to the wicketkeeper.
Brief scores: Australia 454 (Marnus Labuschagne 215, Steve Smith 65; Neil Wagner 3-66, Colin de Grandhomme 3-78) vs New Zealand.