Third Test, SCG, Australia v NZ, day three, SCG
First innings: Australia 454, New Zealand 0-63
Latham 26, Blundell 34
New Zealand’s ‘two-Toms’ batsmen have made it to stumps without loss on day two of the third Test at the SCG.
Chasing Australia’s first innings total of 454, the tourists had earlier looked to be in deep trouble when Marnus Labuschagne scored his maiden double century.
But the Black Caps claimed the last five Australian wickets for 44 runs, with Tom Latham and Tom Blundell starting a watchful and slow chase, with the pitch yet to offer any great surprises.
In Australia’s first innings, Labuschagne was caught and bowled for 215 off Kiwi Todd Astle, but only after confirming his status as the rising star of Australian cricket.
The right hander had faced a nervous 20 minutes on 199 as he shared the strike with skipper Tim Paine, without managing to get the one run needed to snare the milestone before the afternoon drinks break.
He ultimately manufactured an edged four runs off Colin de Grandhomme to break the tension and see Australia to 5-401
The young right-hander has now exceeded 800 Test runs this seasons, becoming the 10th Australian to post four tons in a home summer.
Steve Smith, Don Bradman and Neil Harvey are the only Australians to have scored more runs in a home summer of five or fewer Tests.
Friday’s century was Labuschagne’s fourth ton of the home summer and his big innings means he will overtake Smith’s batting average of 62.84.
Smith’s numbers come from 131 innings, while Labuschagne is in the midst of his 22nd knock.
Earlier, Matthew Wade was bowled by a slower ball from Black Caps bowler William Somerville without adding to his overnight score of 22.
Wade missed the flight of the Sommerville ball and lost his leg stump.
Somerville gets his first Test wicket in Australia!
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) January 3, 2020
Travis Head battled for ten runs in an hour off 42 balls before edging a ball to the keeper off Matt Henry.
Tim Paine also eventually fell for 35 when bowled by de Grandhomme, with James Pattinson playing on off Neil Wagner for two.
At the first drinks break Australian bowler Mitchell Starc told Channel Seven that he expected the pitch to conditions to favour Australia late in the match.
It is a bit slower than Melbourne in the last few Test matches,” Starc said. “But with this heat, hopefully the wicket dries out a bit and it spins but you might see a bit of reverse spin as well.”
Australia is on the verge of their most dominant home summer in history if it wins a fifth consecutive Test.
Tim Paine’s side are yet to be pushed to a fifth day in any of their Test wins over Pakistan or the Black Caps this summer, winning all four in four days.
Australia have never swept aside opponents so fast so regularly before in a home season.
Since Test cricket began in 1877, they have clean-swept a summer of multiple matches nine times before but have been pushed to a fifth day in at least one of those games each time.
The only other instance that comes close is a top-end series against Bangladesh in 2003, however that was only a two-match series against the minnows played in the middle of winter.
the Aussies’ 2019-20 record signifies a significant rise from the team that suffered their first ever Test series loss to India on these shores as they battled out of the ball-tampering saga.