Green shoots Aussies to big lead, but Smith’s duck and Marnus’ all time low give Kiwis a glimmer of hope


Demoralised by Cam Green’s mighty unbeaten 174, the Black Caps fell into an all-too-familiar abyss against Australia in the first Test before giving themselves a glimmer of hope with two late wickets..

The tourists put together dominant sessions either side of lunch to take control of the Test, first with the bat and then with the ball.

Green and Josh Hazlewood sparkled before lunch with a century partnership that lifted Australia from 9-279 to 383 all out.

In reply, New Zealand were all out for 179 inside two sessions, giving Australia a first-innings lead of 204.

Only Glenn Phillips’ run-a-ball 71 and Matt Henry’s even-quicker 42 gave joy to the Basin Reserve fans, who offered the biggest cheer of the day to a streaker after tea.

There was more cause for celebration after Australia opted against making the Kiwis bat again, and lost Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne to loose shots in quick succession against Tim Southee.

Marnus Labuschagne of Australia leaves the field after being dismissed during day two of the First Test in the series between New Zealand and Australia at Basin Reserve on March 01, 2024 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Labuschagne made two to add to his one from the first innings. The batsman has been out of form and this marked the lowest return he’s ever had in a Test match, according to the TV commentary.

He’s now had 10 scores of 20 or fewer in 13 completed Test innings since his century in Manchester. The dismissal also saw his average drop below 50.

Nightwatchman Nathan Lyon should also have been removed but was dropped by Southee at slip as the Aussies limped to stumps at 2-13, a lead of 217.

The batting capitulation was all too familiar for Kiwi fans, who haven’t seen the Black Caps beat Australia in a home Test since 1993.

Even the longest-standing Black Caps followers can’t have seen many sorrier sights than their top order’s effort on Friday.

New Zealand capitulated at the start of their chase, losing three wickets in six calamitous balls before stumbling to 5-42 at the tea break.

The worst was a shambolic run-out of Kane Williamson, who clattered into Will Young and was caught short by the accurate arm of Marnus Labuschagne.

Williamson, so often the Black Caps’ batting talisman, departed for a second-ball duck either side of Tom Latham and Rachin Ravindra’s cheap dismissals.

Latham (five) chopped on from Mitchell Starc’s bowling, while Ravindra was sensationally caught by Nathan Lyon at point off Hazlewood, heading to the sheds for another duck.

The quick wickets left New Zealand at 3-12, sucking the air from Wellington’s Basin Reserve, with more pain to come.

Cameron Green of Australia celebrates his century during day one of the First Test in the series between New Zealand and Australia at Basin Reserve on February 29, 2024 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

After sustaining 12 overs of pressure from the Australian attack, Daryl Mitchell and Will Young lost concentration and their wicket in consecutive balls.

Mitchell pulled Pat Cummins for a morale-lifting boundary but was caught behind from the following delivery, departing for 11 off 37 balls.

Wicketkeeper Alex Carey caught Young (nine) when the opener got a faint edge on a Mitch Marsh ball heading down the legside.

From 5-29, Tom Blundell and Phillips gave the Black Caps some much-needed stability with an 86-run stand.

Lyon broke their partnership by bamboozling Blundell, taking three further lower-order wickets as the Kiwis went for the slog, finishing with 4-43.

Australia’s performance was all the more spectacular given the sides started the day around level pegging.

Green and Hazlewood began Friday with Australia at 9-279, and expectations of a swift end to their partnership and the Black Caps beginning their response.

As it was, the Kiwis were made to wait until lunch after Green – who started on 103 – plundered their attack for two further hours.

The pair tallied a 116-run stand, the highest 10th-wicket partnership of any side across New Zealand’s 469-Test history.

Green’s 174 was his best Test score, trumping his sole previous century last year against India.

Hazlewood claimed a record of his own – bettering Glenn McGrath’s 14 to produce the highest-scoring innings of any Australian No.11 in New Zealand.

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