Sports News Update: Despite Tim Southee and Neil Wagner running through the Australian batting order in the evening session, the home team was in command at the close of play on Day 3 of the Perth Test against New Zealand. Australia were 167 for 6, ahead by a sizeable 417 at stumps.
After New Zealand were cleaned up for just 166 in the first innings, the visiting side’s bowlers stuck to their task admirably. Tim Southee, Neil Wagner and Colin de Grandhomme mostly bowled with discipline to keep the opposition in check. Joe Burns (53) crunched the occasional drive and flick, but couldn’t really break free. On the other hand, David Warner survived a review for a caught-at-slip appeal off de Grandhomme, but he didn’t last long as he mistimed a pull off Southee to mid-on.
Marnus Labuschagne, who has been in tremendous form, then cracked a cut and also skipped down the track to loft Nathan Lyon for an inside-out shot over cover to up the scoring rate. Labuschagne and Burns also stitched a stand of 87 before the former pulled Mitchell Santner straight to short midwicket. Burns followed him back to the pavilion, with Southee bowling a peach of a short ball to force the batsman to fend it to gully. Steven Smith, too, didn’t last long, falling into a trap for the second time in the Test; pulling Wagner to deep square leg.
Travis Head looked quite tentative and could only tuck one to the fielder positioned at leg gully while Tim Paine played down the wrong line and was castled, with Southee picking up both the scalps. With Australia so far ahead in the game, those late wickets didn’t matter much in the context of the game. However, New Zealand’s bowlers deserve the credit for their efforts, especially in the backdrop of losing out on Lockie Ferguson’s services due to a calf problem in the first innings.
Earlier, Mitchell Starc picked up a five-wicket haul while the rest of the bowlers chipped in with wickets to ensure New Zealand were bundled out for a mere 166. New Zealand’s hopes of getting close to Australia’s first innings total rested on the shoulders of Ross Taylor and BJ Watling. At the start of the day, Taylor had a terrible mix-up with Watling, but the latter survived as Tim Paine couldn’t collect the ball cleanly. Unfortunately for Watling, he couldn’t take advantage of the reprieve, chopping one onto the stumps off Pat Cummins.
Taylor then pushed at a straighter one from Lyon and edged it to the slip fielder, bringing to an end a gritty hand of 80. Starc followed it up by sending de Grandhomme back to the hut with a brute of a bumper to pick up his fifth wicket of the innings. De Grandhomme took the review, believing that it hadn’t taken the glove on its way to the slip cordon but to no avail. Labuschagne made one more incision to leave New Zealand nine down by cleaning up Mitchell Santner with a peach of a leg-break. Lyon then provided the finishing touches by removing Tim Southee.
The track is showing enough signs of wear and tear. And with the pink ball expected to dart around under lights, New Zealand have an uphill task ahead of them to save the game.
Brief scores: Australia 416 (Marnus Labuschagne 143, Travis Head 56; Neil Wagner 4-92, Tim Southee 4-93) and 167/6 (Joe Burns 53; Tim Southee 4-63) lead New Zealand 166 (Ross Taylor 80; Mitchell Starc 5-52) by 417 runs