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Sports


Australia in firm control despite late Kiwi charge

Perth, Dec 14 (UNI) New Zealand made an impressive, late fightback with five wickets
in the final session, but Australia still maintained control over the Test, leading with 417
runs at end of day three here
Matthew Wade (8 not out) ended the day alongside Pat Cummins (1 not out) with
Australia on 167/6 in their second innings, having lost their last five wickets for 29 runs.
Earlier, Ross Taylor and BJ Watling began the day at 109/5, still trailing by 307 runs,
and surviving the first five overs of the day despite a few close calls. They were lucky to
get through a straightforward run-out chance, when Tim Paine fluffed an easy
opportunity while collecting a throw from the deep.
With the deficit shrinking to less than 300, Watling was the first one to depart, chopping
one onto his own stumps. Ross Taylor exited not long after for 80, edging one behind off
Lyon, but Colin de Grandhomme expressed his free-flowing self at the other end, not
shying in pulling anything short to the leg-side fence.
However, a Starc bumper crept on him sharply, and carried an edge to Smith at second
slip. It ended de Grandhomme’s quick 21-ball 23, and gave Starc his five-wicket haul,
leaving the Kiwis at 155/8, an ICC report said.
Despite the absence of Josh Hazlewood, Australia’s bowlers continued to exert pressure
on the lower order. Marnus Labuschagne and Nathan Lyon then cleaned up the rest of the
two wickets in back-to-back overs, with the injured Lockie Ferguson ending as the lone
unbeaten batsman. The Kiwis lost their last five wickets for just 46 runs.
David Warner and Joe Burns began the second innings with a healthy lead of 250 in their
kitty. Warner soon passed Sir Donald Bradman’s Test tally of 6996 runs, and became the
12th Australian to cross 7000 Test runs. However, a Tim Southee bouncer got the better of
him, with a leading edge easily landing in mid-off’s hands.
Marnus Labuschagne and Joe Burns then combined for a steady partnership worth 87
runs, with Labuschagne crossing 1000 Test runs this year, the only batsman, thus far, to
do so. The lead had almost trickled past 400, when Wagner’s angle from round the wicket
clicked. He darted a short one into Labuschagne, and forced him to play at the ball coming
in. The batsman pulled it straight to short mid-wicket, ending his stay on 50.
After wafting at deliveries on the leg stump from Wagner upon arrival, Steve Smith got
going with back-to-back fours off Southee, one an expansive drive through covers, and the
next one a wrist-rolled straight drive that was carved past the bowler.
Joe Burns ticked past his fifty, but with the bowlers increasingly employing the short ball
as twilight set in, he couldn't continue for long. On 53, he fended another short one, off
Southee, to gully.
Against Wagner, Smith tried to create room and play cross-batted, but could not keep
down a short one by the left-armer on the leg-stump, gifting a catch to square leg. From
131/1, Australia slipped to 154/4.
As stumps drew closer, New Zealand relied more on their angling short-pitched deliveries.
Wade got his first runs with a pull off Southee, but Travis Head, at the other end, looked
edgy against deliveries directed on his body from the get go. Off the final delivery of the
52nd over, Southee made Head glance at a leg-stump delivery, which resulted in an easy
pouch to de Grandhomme at leg gully.
Tim Paine returned for a second-ball duck, but Pat Cummins, at No.8, hung around with
Wade, who himself survived a close inside edge in the final over, but ensured Australia no
more wickets till close of play.
Brief score:
Australia - 416 & 167/6
New Zealand - 166
UNI XC-BM
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