After a nightmarish Friday, New Zealand fought back brilliantly to dominate the weekend in the second Test against Australia at the WACA. In reply to the hosts’ 9/559 declared, the Black Caps reached 6/510 at stumps on Day 3 thanks to the heroics of in-form Kane Williamson and the previously-struggling Ross Taylor.
Australia resumed on 2/416 on Day 2, but the tourists made some belated inroads early, with the out-of-sorts Trent Boult finally clicking by ending David Warner’s glorious innings for 253 and knicking Adam Voges out for 41, while Matt Henry had Steve Smith caught behind for 27.
After Doug Bracewell pulled off a superb caught-and-bowled to dismiss Mitch Marsh for 34, BJ Watling stumped counterpart Peter Nevill and Mitchell Johnson either side of Mitchell Starc’s departure (caught Tom Latham) in one remarkable Mark Craig over.
Smith declared one over later and the Black Caps were in dire straits early as Starc trapped Martin Guptill for 1 in the third over. But Latham (36), Williamson and Taylor steadied the ship to take the weary underdogs through to 2/140 at stumps.
Williamson (70 not out) and Taylor (26 not out) returned on Sunday morning and gave the Australian attack a liberal helping of the misery the home side has dished out on Day 1, with the duo racking up their tons either side of lunch – Williamson off 158 balls and Taylor off 132.
Josh Hazlewood had Williamson for 166 soon after taking the new ball, but not before the pair had put on 265 – a record New Zealand partnership against Australia.
Taylor and Brendon McCullum weathered a furious spell by Starc, who produced Australia’s highlight of the day with a ball clocking 160.4 kilometres per hour – becoming just the fifth bowler ever to crack the mythical 160 km/ph mark.
After doing the hard work, McCullum left for 27, bowled by Marsh. But Taylor – who had previously recorded just one century since the start of 2014 – continued on his record-breaking quest. Martin Crowe’s highest innings by a New Zealander against Australia (188 at the Gabba in 1985) fell by the wayside, while by the end of the day’s play he had tallied a career-best 235 not out.
Mark Craig will resume with Taylor on 7 not out after Starc (2/83 off 30 overs) claimed BJ Watling (1) and Mitchell Johnson – who was carted for 131 from 24 overs – finally saw a reward with the wicket of Bracewell (12).
Incredibly, New Zealand remain an excellent chance of grabbing a first-innings lead as the trans-Tasman rivals gear up for two fascinating days in Perth.
Stud of the day
Day 2: The Australian cricketing fraternity is swooning for Kane Williamson – with Allan Border saying he wouldn’t have any other current player batting for his life – and it’s not hard to see why. The super-humble Williamson produced his third straight high-quality innings to dig the Kiwis out of a tricky spot, ensuring the tourists claimed Day 2 bragging rights with 70 not out as he carried them to 2/140 at stumps.
Day 3: Ross Taylor’s outstanding record – and a lack of genuine alternatives – has seen him persevered with through a rough trot of form, but it was the Taylor of old on Day 3. Dominating the scoring in a spectacular partnership with Williamson, Taylor’s 200 came up in just 254 balls, while he has plundered 34 boundaries in his 235 not out. More records await tomorrow if the lower order can stick around with him long enough.
We have witnessed a batting Masterclass today from @RossLTaylor and Kane today. An absolute pleasure to watch both these guys at the crease!
— Martin Guptill (@Martyguptill) November 15, 2015
Nathan Lyon put down a regulation catch at third slip off Starc when McCullum’s innings was just four balls old. A quick strike after Williamson departed could have sparked a collapse with the mood Starc was in and the way the ball was moving around, but they saw off the barrage and Taylor kicked on again.
A look at the scorecard with two days to play would suggest a draw was eminent 99 times out of a hundred. But with Smith and McCullum in charge of the respective sides, anything is possible and there’s little chance of these sides playing out a tame stalemate. If the Black Caps can further frustrate the Australian bowlers on the morning of Day 4, it will give their own attack the impetus to put the heat on Warner, Burns, Smith and co in the hosts’ second innings. Buckle up for a classic couple of days of Test cricket.
- Ross Taylor’s 235* is the highest by a New Zealander against Australia, and the equal-fifth highest by an overseas batsman in Australia. He is just 52 runs shy of Robert Foster’s (England) record of 287, set way back in 1903.
- Taylor’s knock is the third-highest ever scored at the WACA behind Matt Hayden’s then-world record 380 and the 253 Warner smashed earlier in this Test.
- Taylor is now outright second on the list of New Zealand century-makers behind Martin Crowe (18) with his 13th ton. Williamson briefly enjoyed equal-second spot alongside Taylor and John Wright when he brought up triple figures for the 12th time, before Taylor nosed in front again.
- Taylor and Williamson, who beat the 253 Nathan Astle and Adam Parore put on in Perth for the record of the highest innings by a New Zealand pair against Australia, also became the most prolific duo in Kiwi Test history. Their 2,188 partnership runs in 42 innings has seen them overtake Astle and Stephen Fleming’s 1,951 in 58 innings.