Third test, but more of the same as the Back Caps found out today against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The home side won the toss and put themselves in to bat, and by tea had passed the 200 mark with the loss of only two wickets.
It capped off a dramatic day for the Black Caps, who had to make no fewer than five changes to the side that lost by 248 runs in Melbourne. Kane Williamson, Henry Nicholls and Mitchell Santner were ruled out with a virus before the start of play, with Trent Boult out injured and Tim Southee rested after what was described as having a ‘heavy workload’.
While the Southee omission is a little perplexing, it’s hard to think his presence would have done much as the Australian batsmen simply picked up where they left off in Melbourne. While Joe Burns was caught by Ross Taylor off the bowling of makeshift opening bowler Colin de Grandhomme, David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne pushed the score to 95 before lunch.
De Grandhomme found himself in the action again with a great catch in the leg gully to remove Warner for 45, but all that did was bring Steve Smith to the crease to join Labuschange.
The tormentors of the Black Caps in Melbourne then put on a century partnership, with Labuschange reaching his century just after tea. Smith passed 50 as the Australians found themselves in a commanding position late on day one.
Once again, tomorrow morning will more or less decide the test. Unless the Black Caps can snag a run of wickets, they’re in for another long day in the field and then a long road to chase what will be a predictably large total.
There were fears that the smoke from the calamitous fires raging across New South Wales would cause the test to be suspended or even called off - right now the Black Caps will probably be hoping for a wind change for that very outcome.
Australia v NZ
Third test, tea day one:
Australia 215/2 (M Labuschange 100*, S Smith 50*)