Australia edged ahead in the second day of the day-night Test against New Zealand after their pacers struck crucial blows in the final session.
Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head added 76 runs for the fifth wicket and the rest of the lower-order made useful contributions to help the hosts finish on 416.
Mitchell Starc’s superb spell under the lights and Ross Taylor’s aggressive batting made for an enthralling final session as New Zealand finished the on 109 for five.
Neil Wagner and Tim Southee share the spoils
Centurion Labuschagne resumed proceedings on the second day alongside Head. The 25-year-old No.3 batsman was the first wicket of the afternoon as he was bowled around his legs by Neil Wagner.
His partner Head, who helped himself to a stroke-filled half-century followed shortly after, driving a full delivery from Tim Southee straight to Mitch Santner at cover.
The lower-order of Australia led by Tim Paine showed resilience in the second session. The skipper expertly rallied with the tail and ensured his team got to formidable total. Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc together added 50 runs, sticking around with Paine for 21 overs. Starc’s cameo was vital and entertaining as the southpaw scored three boundaries and a six in his 41-ball-30.
Wagner and Southee finished with four wickets each. Part-time leg-spinner Jeet Raval bowled the ball of the innings, castling Cummins with a delivery that pitched outside leg and turned to knock off the leg stump.
Australia lose Hazlewood
Starc struck in the first over of the third session as he snapped up an easy return catch to send Tom Latham back to the pavillion.
Josh Hazlewood delivered in his first over as well, with a vicious inswinger that snuck through the bat-pad gap of Raval to crash into the middle stump.
However, Hazlewood pulled out of his run up during his second over of the day and left the field of play due to hamstring strain. He, like Lockie Ferguson, is expected to undergo an MRI scan later in the day.
The hosts now have only three specialist bowlers in Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and off-spinner Nathan Lyon. Part-timers Matthew Wade, Head and Labuschagne would have to chip in if Hazlewood doesn’t recover for Day 3.
Kiwis ‘Starc-struck’ under lights
After the fall of two quick wickets, the usual suspects, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor stitched a much-needed partnership to prevent a collapse.
The duo was cagey against the pacers and attacked Lyon and part-timer Wade. They added 76 runs and looked set to see out the rest of the day before Starc struck.
Skipper Williamson poked at a fuller delivery and Steve Smith completed a blinder of a catch at second slip to break the partnership.
In his tenth over, Starc struck twice in two deliveries to rattle the visitors. Henry Nicholls was caught down the leg side by Tim Paine before nightwatchman Wagner was bowled by a Starc special – a late swinging yorker.
Wicket-keeper batsman BJ Watling and Ross Taylor, who notched a splendid half-century, remained unbeaten at stumps.
Day – 2, Stumps
Australia – 416 (Labuschage 141, Head 50; Wagner 4-92, Southee 4-93)
New Zealand – 109/5 (Taylor 62*; Starc 4-31)
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