SYDNEY (AP) — Marnus Labuschagne continued his stellar summer at the crease by passing 150 and leading Australia to 364 for five at lunch on the second day of the third test at Sydney Cricket Ground as New Zealand’s tour was dealt yet another injury blow.
Resuming at 283-3, Australia added 71 runs for the loss of two wickets in what was the most even session of the test so far. At the interval, Labuschagne was 181 not out, nearing his high score of 185, and captain Tim Paine was on 10.
Labuschagne reached his 150 midway through the session off 253 balls, with 14 boundaries and a six. The world’s fourth-ranked batsman has now passed 800 runs in the five tests this summer at an average of 133.
After making five changes for this match, four of which were for illness or injury, New Zealand’s tour took another blow with seamer Matt Henry breaking his thumb. He sustained the injury early on the first day while attempting to field a drive from Joe Burns.
Henry will continue to bowl as the injury is to his non-bowling hand, but he was seen wearing a splint under heavy strapping when play commenced Saturday. He will only bat depending on the tourist’s situation in the match.
Despite the latest setback, Saturday’s first session was New Zealand’s best in the field with spinner Will Somerville bowling Matt Wade (22) in the first over the morning, before Henry had Travis Head caught behind for 10.
The Kiwis bowled a tight, straight line which Australia struggled to score off regularly and lost wickets in trying to play expansive strokes to deliveries that were too straight.
On Friday, Labuschagne and Steve Smith combined for a 156-run partnership to swing the momentum firmly toward the hosts after captain Tim Paine won the toss and batted on a dry SCG pitch.
Smith made 63, after taking 39 balls to get off the mark as his series nemesis Wagner — who has taken the star batsman’s wicket four times this series — employed his short-pitched tactic to good effect to limit the Smith’s scoring options.
It was Colin de Grandhomme who got Smith this time though, teasing Smith into driving a ball outside off-stump and found the edge which carried to Ross Taylor at slip.
Earlier in the day de Grandhomme took openers Burns (18), before Wagner had David Warner caught at leg gully straight after lunch for 45, his third score in the 40s this series.
Conditions at the SCG are hot and conditions may worsen later in the day as smoke from the current wildfires in New South Wales state drift toward the coast.
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