Australia in control despite early second innings wobble


Australia gained a stranglehold over proceedings in the opening Test in Wellington thanks to an all-round show on the second day. Their bowlers backed up Cameron Green’s unbeaten 174 to take a healthy first innings lead on a day when 13 wickets fell.

The fast-moving second day saw Australia first add 104 runs for the last wicket with Josh Hazlewood partnering a dominant Green in a stand that frustrated the hosts. The duo ensured that Australia’s position had improved by leaps and bounds from the 176/6 they were at one point in the innings.

Green got his highest Test score as Australia put up a massive total on a green top before Matt Henry ended the innings and also picked up a five-fer.

The conditions now favoured their strong pace attack and they delivered in style. Mitchell Starc first castled Tom Latham early before Kane Williamson collided with partner Will Young resulting in his run out for a duck. Things took a turn for the worse when Hazlewood then had Rachin Ravindra caught at cover for a blob as well three balls later. 12/3 quickly turned to 29/5 as Daryll Mitchell and Young were dismissed off successive balls by Pat Cummins and Mitchell Marsh.

Tom Blundell, alongside a belligerent Glenn Phillips, then proceeded to do the repair work. Their 84-run stand helped New Zealand save some blushes while Henry used the long handle in scoring 42 – a cameo containing four sixes. But the good work started by the Australian pacers was finished off by Nathan Lyon who wiped out the tail to finish with a four-wicket haul. This gave Australia a 204-run first innings lead.

The visitors, however, chose not to enforce the follow-on. This saw another minor twist in the tale with New Zealand now striking early. Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne were both dismissed by Tim Southee. The former chopped on an incoming delivery while the latter was strangled down the leg side, leaving Australia precariously poised at 4-2.

Usman Khawaja along with nightwatch Lyon saw off the remaining day’s play with Australia still firmly in the driver’s seat even as New Zealand got a sniff at derailing them.

Brief Scores:
Australia 383in 115.1 overs  (Steven Smith 31, Usman Khawaja 33, Cameron Green 174*, Mitchell Marsh 40, Josh Hazelwood 22; Matt Henry 5-70, William ORourke 2-87, Scott Kuggeleijn 2-75) and 13/2 in 8 overs  (Tim Southee 2-5) lead  New Zealand 179 in 43.1 overs  (Tom Blundell 33, Glenn Phillips 71, Matt Henry 42; Josh Hazelwood 2-55,  Nathan Lyon 4-43) by 217 runs


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