Australia maintain control despite Labuschagne, Head's collapse in first Test

REUTERS
December 13, 2019

Labuschagne falls seven runs short of becoming the third Test batsman to get three consecutive scores of over 150

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Labuschagne falls seven runs short of becoming the third Test batsman to notch three consecutive scores of over 150. Photo: AFP

Australia centurion Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head fell in the opening session of the second day of the first Test against an undermanned New Zealand on Friday but the hosts were still in control at 337 for six at the first break.

Tim Paine was unbeaten on 15 and Pat Cummins was five not out after Labuschagne (143) and Travis Head (56) went in a tough session for the luckless New Zealanders.

The tourists were shorthanded with debutant paceman Lockie Ferguson, himself a replacement for injured spearhead Trent Boult, unable to bowl for the remainder of the day-night Test after damaging his calf on day one.

Resuming on 248-4, Labuschagne and Head were untroubled in a 76-run partnership on a pitch that appeared to play faster than on day one to wrest control of the contest.Head, who did not get a chance to bat in Australia’s thrashing of Pakistan in Adelaide, hit 10 boundaries in his first half-century since the first Ashes Test in August.

Neil Wagner, New Zealand’s best bowler on day one, probed with accurate short-pitch bowling to Head backed by a heavy leg-side field.

He broke the partnership when he knocked over Labuschagne’s leg stump and Head was dismissed when he drove straight to extra cover off Tim Southee.

Labuschagne fell seven runs short of becoming the third Test batsman to notch three consecutive scores of over 150.

Oppressive conditions continued and the temperature reached 40 degrees Celsius at the start of play on Friday.

Smoke from a bush fire at nearby Belmont Racecourse wafted into the 60,000-seat arena but did not appear to affect players or spectators.

New Zealand have only won one Test in Australia since their sole series triumph across the Tasman Sea in 1985-86.

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