Sport Cricket First Test: Australia in charge as Starc blasts New Zealand top order
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First Test: Australia in charge as Starc blasts New Zealand top order

Mitchell Starc celebrates after taking another big wicket with his teammates. Photo: AAP
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Pace bowler Mitchell Starc has put Australia in a commanding position after blitzing the New Zealand top order on day two of the First Test in Perth.

Starc took 4-31 to have New Zealand reeling at 5-109, still trailing Australia’s first innings by 307.

Ross Taylor was not out 66 and BJ Watling is yet to score.

Starc found himself on a hat-trick 15 minutes before stumps, having just had Henry Nicholls caught behind for seven and nightwatchman Neil Wagner sent on his way for a golden duck.

He had earlier set the tone when he sent Tom Latham back to the locker room for a duck in the first over and then followed up to have the dangerous Kane Williamson dismissed with a Steve Smith slips blinder.

A wide shot of Steve Smith’s brilliant slips catch on Friday night. Photo: AAP 

With Williamson threatening to establish himself in the difficult conditions under lights a fast edge saw the former Australian skipper dive hard to his right to hold a one-hander,

Williamson was on his way for 34 off 70 balls and New Zealand slumped to 3-77.

At the end of play Starc said the Australians were happy with their day’s work.

“It did have everything. Probably a few more runs than we would have liked and take the momentum into tomorrow,” Starc told Channel Seven.

Starc said Smith’s catch was something special.

“He has hung onto a few of those with those big mitts of his. He is pretty good behind the stumps.”

Starc also commiserated with teammate Josh Hazlewood, who earlier  took out Jeet Raval’s middle stump for just one run, but then pulled up short soon after.

Hazlewood stopped during his run up and then walked gingerly from the field with what looked like a hamstring injury, at one point burying his face in his baggy green.

“It is never nice to see anyone go down, especially one of your mates,” Starc said.

“He has gone to have scans and hopefully it is not too bad”

Earlier, Australian skipper Tim Paine offered stubborn resistance late in the home side’s first innings, hitting 39 before being caught last man out for a total of 416.

Starc had himself thrashed the bowling for a quickfire 30 on a searing day at Optus Stadium, while vice-captain Travis Head knocked up his half-century.

Tim Southee and Neil Wagner were the best of the Black Cap bowlers with four wickets apiece.

At the change of innings Wagner said it had been a relief when the shade came over the ground.

“Very hot, tough,” he told Channel Seven. “Very proud of the boys  … Full credit to the Aussies, they did well.

“The ground in New Zealand can be quite soft, this is hard. Ice bath now and feed. Hopefully our boys can then go [hard].”

Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne is bowled by Neil Wagner. Photo: AAP 

Head was caught by Mitchell Santner bowled Tim Southee for 56. Head had raced to the milestone with nine fours.

Paceman Wagner had snared the vital wicket of Marnus Labuschagne, bowling the Australian for 143.

Australia had just reached 300 when Wagner broke through to smash Labuschagne’s leg stump after the home side had resumed on Friday afternoon at 4-248

The Black Caps are without paceman Lockie Ferguson who has been ruled out with a calf injury.

Scans on Friday confirmed the Test debutant suffered a calf strain while bowling on day one and he will not bowl again, although he will be available to bat.

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