Sport Cricket Second Test: Black Caps slump chasing huge Australian total

Second Test: Black Caps slump chasing huge Australian total

Travis Head attacks the Black Caps attack on day two at the MCG. Photo: AAP
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Second Test, day two, MCG, stumps

First innings: Australia 467, New Zealand 2-44

Latham 9, Taylor 1

Australian bowlers have put the heat on New Zealand in the second Test at the MCG, with two early wickets swinging the match decisively in favour of the home side.

At stumps New Zealand was 2-44, chasing Australia’s first innings total of 467.

Tom Latham finished on nine and Ross Taylor on one.

Australian paceman Pat Cummins snared the first breakthrough when he had Tom Blundell caught behind for just 15.

Returning fast bowler James Pattinson then had the dangerous Kane Williamson caught for nine from a top edge that went high enough for Paine to get underneath it.

Earlier, Australia’s Travis Head snared the second century of his 16 Test career in the overs after tea after he and skipper Paine shared a 150-run partnership.

Head – who had been mooted to be dropped if Australia went for an extra bowler in this match – scored his century after a patient innings when he initially supported Steve Smith.

He eventually holed out for 114 off 234 balls in the search for quick runs.

Paine played an aggressive innings after coming to the crease when Smith failed to reach his first ton of the summer.

Australia went to tea at 5-431, but after the break Paine fell lbw to Neil Wagner for 79 after a DRS review and Mitchell Starc was caught for one when slogging the ball.

Earlier Smith had fallen to another short ball – out for 85 to a brilliant catch by Henry Nicholls off the bowling of Wagner.

The world’s No.1 batsman had struggled to break free in the opening hour of play, with the New Zealand bowlers persisting with a short ball attack that eventually paid off when a lifting delivery caught the shoulder of Smith’s bat.

Running backwards, Nicholls caught the ball one-handed in gully to have Smith again falling to a short ball.

Earlier, opener David Warner said the home side had to be smart and patient as they look to build a bigger total on the second day of the Second Test at the MCG.

Warner – who made 41 off 64 balls on Thursday before being caught in slips off Neil Wagner – said the much maligned MCG pitch was a challenge for the batsmen.

“If you put it in that five to six metre length it had a little bit in it,” Warner told Channel Seven before the start of play.

You never really felt like you were in. We did all the hard work. Smithy has done really well.

“Hopefully he and Travis Head can come out today and continue that partnership and be patient.”

“We’ve got to come out here and continue that today, obviously we know the tactics that they are going to bring you know we are going to have to be patient and try and move the game one way forward, but in saying that we have got to try and be smart with that.”

With Australia resuming on 4-257, Smith opened day two by smashing three runs off the first ball starting on 77, with Travis Head on 25.

Neil Wagner celebrates theprize wicket of Steve Smith on day two. Photo: AAP

It was slow going thereafter, with a snails pace run rate and the Black Caps persevering with their short ball attack.

More than 80,000 people packed into the MCG for Thursday’s opening day, with more than 16,000 travelling from New Zealand for their first Boxing Day appearance since 1987.

Cricket Australia has taken notice, saying it will not be waiting so long again to host the Black Caps at the MCG.

“We are already having some high-level discussions around the cricket calendar from 2023 to 2031 and we absolutely hope and look forward to hosting New Zealand at a Boxing Day Test well before another 32 years pass,” Cricket Australia CEO Kevin Roberts said.