Sport Cricket First Test: Australia in control despite floodlit collapse

First Test: Australia in control despite floodlit collapse

Steve Smith chastises himself as he leaves the field on Saturday night. Photo: AAP
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Australia is expected to seek quick runs on Sunday afternoon, having inexplicably lost its way in setting New Zealand a huge total in the final session of day three of the first test in Perth.

Despite losing 5-29 under the stadium floodlights, the home side is well in control at 6-167, leading the Black Caps by 417 with two full days to play.

It means Australia will ask New Zealand to either pull off a world-record chase or survive two days against the pink ball to get a result when their innings ends on Sunday.

Tim Southee was in blistering short ball form. Photo: AAP

The big news was Steve Smith going cheaply, again caught out by New Zealand’s short-ball plan.

After Joe Burns and Marnus Labuschagne both hit half-centuries on Saturday, Smith fell to the Black Caps’ trap for a second time in as many innings on just 16.

Caught pulling Neil Wagner behind square in the first innings, Smith again pulled the left-armer straight to Jeet Raval at square leg halfway in from the rope.

It marked the first time Australia’s batting wizard has gone three Tests without a half-century throughout his 71-match career.

Travis Head (five) was caught at leg gully, and Tim Southee was clean bowled Tim Paine for a duck.

Matthew Wade (eight) and Pat Cummins (one) then both got through to the close unbeaten.

But while New Zealand fought hard and scans confirmed Josh Hazlewood wouldn’t bowl again in this match, Australia still walked away from Optus Stadium the happier team.

Mitchell Starc finished off his third five-wicket haul in day-night Tests, as his 5-52 helped Australia roll the Black Caps for 166 in reply to the hosts’ first-innings 416.

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

Starc’s fifth – and only wicket on day three – was shrouded in controversy, with Colin de Grandhomme caught in slips on 23.

Replays appeared to show the ball had missed his gloves before clattering into his helmet, however third umpire Marais Erasmus couldn’t find enough evidence to overturn the on-field call.

With Josh Hazlewood injured, Nathan Lyon also bagged two – including the key scalp of Ross Taylor for 80.

Burns and Labuschagne then both rammed home the Aussies’ advantage with the bat.

Labuschagne’s even 50 marked the first time he hadn’t hit a century in his breakthrough summer, caught pulling Wagner (2-40) in a similar fashion to Smith.

Burns also fell to a short ball on 53, as one from Southee (4-63) reared up at him, took him on the gloves and carried to a diving Henry Nicholls at gully.

David Warner was the other to perish on the pull shot from Southee, but not before passing Don Bradman’s career tally and becoming the 12th Australia to reach 7000 Test runs.

-with AAP

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