Sport Cricket First Test: NZ fight back, but Australia builds huge total
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First Test: NZ fight back, but Australia builds huge total

Out cheap: Steve Smith had a lean summer, but thinks his commentary about his short-ball prowess is overblown. Photo: AAP
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First Test: Australia v New Zealand, Perth, day three

First innings: Australia 416, New Zealand 166

Second innings: Australia 6-167

Wade 8, Cummins 1

New Zealand has had a purple patch in the first Test in Perth, snaring four wickets in 20 runs after Australia started meandering in its attempt to build a big total.

Neil Wagner was the initial destroyer, taking four wickets including short balls that snared Marnus Labuschange and Steve Smith.

Brimming with confidence after notching his 50 off 81 balls, Labuschange tried to hook a short ball from Wagner and was caught at mid-wicket.

Smith wasted little time after ambling to the crease, settling in before smashing two consecutive boundaries. But he made on 16 before pulling another Wagner short ball to deep square leg.

Travis Head was caught cheaply after trying to flick a ball from Tim Southee off his pads once too often, with Southee then following up to bowl Tim Paine.

The Australians lost 5-29 as the quest for runs inexplicably stalled.

Earlier, David Warner fell as Australia sought to build on its 250-run first innings lead over New Zealand on day three of the first Test in Perth.

Warner fell when caught at mid off for 19 off the bowling of Tim Southee.

Australia then pushed the lead beyond 325, with opener Joe Burns continuing to build a solid, if slow innings.

In the NZ innings, Mitchell Starc snared 5-52 to be the best of the bowlers with Pat Cummins 3-46 and Nathan Lyon 2-48

Starc said that he had enjoyed the conditions.

“Always found a way to take wickets, but more consistently they are coming up which is nice,” he told Channel Seven during the change of innings.

Mitchell Starc marks his five wicket haul after the New Zealand first innings. Photo: AAP 

Starting to day Pat Cummins bowled BJ Watling for eight after the Black Caps wicketkeeper had earlier survived a near certain run out.

Nathan Lyon then followed up to have Ross Taylor caught by Steve Smith in slips for 80 and Mitchell Starc got his fifth wicket of the innings when Colin de Grandhomme also gloved one to Smith for 23.

The home side had missed a golden opportunity to get Watling when Tim Paine fumbled behind the stumps.

A poor throw from Lyon, did not help Paine who would have had  Watling stranded well out of his crease.

Part-time bowler Marnus Labuschagne also managed to get in on the act bowling Mitchell Santner for two.

New Zealand resumed at 5-109, still trailing Australia’s first innings by 307.

Earlier Australian bowler Josh Hazlewood said he wasn’t giving up hope of playing another Test this summer despite scans confirming a hamstring strain which will prevent him from bowling again in Perth.

The Aussie quick pulled up lame on Friday night when running in to bowl against New Zealand, and immediately limped from the field.

Scans have since revealed the strain, with Cricket Australia’s medicos to monitor his recovery in coming weeks.

The Boxing Day Test is just 12 days away and Hazlewood is extremely unlikely, but he is maintaining some hope of featuring in Sydney a week later if needed.

Australia have James Pattinson and rookie Michael Neser in their squad, with Pattinson likely to be favoured to add to his 19 Tests.

“It’s a bit sore this morning,” Hazlewood told Fox Cricket on Saturday.

I knew as soon as I did it that there was a tear there. It’s not too bad so we’ll play it by ear the next couple of weeks.

“(I’ll) take the next couple of weeks as they come. It’s a tight series so it will be tough work to get up for the last Test. We’ll see how we go.”

Hazlewood’s injury ends an up-and-down year for the quick, who had missed the Sri Lanka home series in January and February with stress fractures in his back.

He was also overlooked for the World Cup and first Ashes Test, before roaring back to form for the remainder of the series as Australia retained the urn.

Josh Hazlewood leaves the field after straining a hamstring. Photo: AAP

He might still be able to bat for Australia in the Perth pink-ball Test if required, but his absence will be felt with the ball with Matthew Wade stepping in as the hosts’ third quick in 40-degree heat.

New Zealand also lost fast bowler Lockie Ferguson, who suffered a calf strain on day one on his Test debut.

The issues have sparked debate over whether possible injury substitutes should be used in Test cricket.

The ICC had approved the use of concussion subs earlier this year, and the rule has received widespread praise for putting the interests of player safety first.

But whether cricket should have a general injury sub is a topic which divides opinions, with Aussie quick Mitchell Starc not expecting one any time soon.

“It took a long time to work out the whole concussion sub one, so I wouldn’t have thought that (injury subs) is anywhere near around the corner,” Starc said.

“It might come into things in the future.

“But I think that’s probably another area where, like with the concussion stuff, they were worried about teams taking advantage of that.

“I think there’s probably too much grey area with (injury subs) as well.”

-with AAP 

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