First Test New Zealand v Australia – Perth
First innings: Australia 416, New Zealand 5-109
Taylor 66, Watling 0
After notching 416 in the first innings of the first Test against New Zealand in Perth, Australia’s attack struck hard and fast – with Mitchell Starc cleaning up with four wickets
Starc struck a pair of Kiwi scalps, and then cleaned up the middle order with less than 15 minutes to play on day two.
Starc sent Tom Latham back to the locker room while Josh Hazlewood took out Jeet Raval’s middle stump.
The early breakthrough was tempered somewhat when Hazelwood pulled up short soon after with what looked to be a hamstring injury.
Hazlewood stopped during his run up and then walked gingerly from the field, at one point burying his face in his baggy green.
With Kane Williamson threatening to establish himself in the difficult conditions under lights a fast edge off Mitchell Starc to Steve Smith saw the former Australian skipper dive hard to his right to hold a one-handed corker.
Williamson was on his way for 34 off 70 balls and New Zealand slumped to 3-77.
It got worse, with Henry Nicholls caught behind off Starc for seven and nightwatchman Neil Wagner then immediately sent on his way for a golden duck.
At stumps Taylor was 66 and BJ Watling was 0.
Earlier, skipper Tim Paine offered stubborn resistance late in the innings, hitting 39 before being caught last man out.
Starc thrashed the bowling for a quickfire 30 on a searing day at Optus Stadium, while earlier 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].”
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.
Labuschagne on Thursday became the first Australian in 72 years [since Donald Bradman] to follow his maiden Test century with two tons in his next two innings.
The home side started day two with Labuschagne on 110 and Travis Head the other not out batsman on 20.
The pair navigated the first hour watchfully and without major incident.
The Black Caps attack is now severely weakened, with Trent Boult ruled out before the match with a side strain.
Teammate Neil Wagner says he is gutted for Ferguson, who left the field during the middle session on day one. The 28-year-old had bowled with ferocity and speed up until that point
“Gutted ain’t it. It’s pretty heartbreaking for him,” Wagner said after Thursday’s play.
“I know he’ll be devastated as well. We all sort of obviously get right behind him. Hopefully it’s not too bad.
“We haven’t heard anything back yet. Hopefully, you know it’s good or better news than what everyone is suspecting.
“He’s a quality player and we would have loved to see him bowl more and see what he could have done.”
Ferguson finished the day with 0-47 off 11 overs.
He would have snared the prized scalp of Steve Smith had Tom Latham held onto a tricky catch at second slip.
Temperatures of about 40 degrees are forecast for the next three days and Labuschagne said Ferguson’s absence would boost Australia’s victory hopes.
“They do have an allrounder in their side so that does lighten the load a little. But it is a massive advantage (for us),” Labuschagne said.