Australia took an ironclad grip on the first Test at the Gabba after their pace-bowling unit backed up their batting line-up’s magnificent collective performance. Despite a bright start to their initial dig, New Zealand were reduced to 5/157 at stumps on Day 2 in reply to the hosts’ mammoth 5/556 declared.
Following a dismal opening day in the field, the Black Caps’ bowlers came out with far greater intent and Trent Boult rattled Steve Smith’s stumps for 48 in the fifth over of the day’s play.
But that brought Adam Voges to the crease, and after negotiating a tough period early on, the 36-year-old took control in his first Test innings on Australian soil.
Voges notched his third consecutive Test 50, while recalled No.3 Usman Khawaja cruised past 150 as Australia reached 500 for the loss of just three wickets. New Zealand’s prospects were dealt another blow when spearhead Tim Southee, easily their most economical bowler, was forced from the field with a back injury.
Khawaja fell to Kane Williamson’s off-spin on 174, sparking Smith’s declaration with Voges left stranded on 83 not out.
The Kiwis’ attack was battered from pillar to post, with Boult and wicketless pair Mark Craig and Doug Bracewell all conceding over 100 runs. Craig, in particular, copped a pasting with 0/156 at more than five an over.
Three of Australia’s four partnerships garnered 150-plus runs, while the other netted 88.
Nevertheless, openers Martin Guptill and Tom Latham started positively and saw the tourists through to tea with 43 on the board for no loss. Guptill (23) edged Josh Hazlewood to David Warner at slip four overs into the final session, however, and when the 23-year-old Latham (47) spooned Mitchell Starc to Nathan Lyon with the score on 102, a mini-collapse ensued.
Ross Taylor (0), Brendon McCullum (6) and Jimmy Neesham (3) all failed, lasting seven balls or less to leave New Zealand in deep trouble at 5/118. A fired-up Mitchell Johnson claimed the key wickets of Taylor and McCullum, before Starc picked up his second by knocking over Neesham’s stumps.
Dogged wicketkeeper BJ Watling steadied the ship along with No.3 Kane Williamson, who notched a vital half-century off just 63 balls. Williamson (55 not out) and Watling (14 not out) will resume on Day 3 as the Black Caps attempt to dig their way out of a cavernous hole.
Stud of the day
Under pressure after a string of failures in the first three Ashes Tests, Voges has gone a long way to cementing the No.5 spot for the summer. His unbeaten 83 featured 11 boundaries and plenty of classy stroke-play.
— Perth Scorchers (@ScorchersBBL) November 6, 2015
Latham and Williamson were well set as the Kiwis eyed off Australia’s daunting total in promising style, but Latham’s departure left New Zealand’s underdone middle-order exposed.
The weather in Australia’s biggest obstacle and New Zealand’s greatest ally over the remaining three days. Showers and thunderstorms are forecast for Saturday, Sunday and Monday, and a seemingly inevitable victory for the hosts is dependent on how lengthy any interruptions may be. Assuming the Black Caps fail to reach 356, Smith will almost certainly enforce the follow-on as Australia attempt to wrap up the Test in between rain breaks. Neil Wagner has been called into the squad as cover for Southee, while Matt Henry is the likely replacement for the second Test if he fails to recover.
- Khawaja’s 174 was the sixth-highest by a No.3 at the Gabba, behind three Don Bradman innings and memorable knocks by Aussie icons Greg Chappell and Ricky Ponting.
- Australia’s run-rate of 4.26 was the second-best in a Gabba Test in an innings of 100-plus overs, behind only the 4.60 Australia managed against India last summer.
- With Khawaja and Smith’s partnership of 88, Australia fell just 12 runs short of equalling the all-time Test record of four century stands in an innings.