Australia v NZ Test: Marnus Labuschagne crosses 1,000-run mark with brilliant ton in Perth
Australia reach 248-4 as Kiwis receive Lockie Ferguson injury blow
Marnus Labuschagne completed 1,000 Test runs in record time during his knock of 110 as Australia gained the upper hand in the opening Test against New Zealand in Perth on Thursday.
Steve Smith and David Warner made identical scores of 43 in the pink-ball Test but it was Labuschagne who held the innings together. The right-hand batsman remained unbeaten and added 132 runs for the third wicket with Smith as the hosts reached 248-4 by stumps.
Labuschagne has been in vintage form. He scored centuries in his last two Test outings against Pakistan in the previous series and also has five fifties to his name in just his 12th Test.
The 25-year-old batsman reached the milestone of 1,000 Test runs in his 18th innings, making him the joint fourth-fastest Australian to the mark alongside greats like Mark Taylor and Doug Walters.
Australia won the toss and decided to bat on a Perth pitch that offered little assistance on the opening day. The Kiwis were dealt a big blow before the start of play when left-arm seamer Trent Boult was ruled out of the match due to a side strain.
Things went from bad to worse for them on the field. Smith received a huge lifeline when he was dropped by Tom Latham at second slip when on 19 off debutant fast bowler Lockie Ferguson.
To top it all, Ferguson limped off the ground after complaining of calf trouble having bowled 11 overs for 47 runs.
Labuschagne, however, batted without much trouble. He kept the Kiwis at bay and scored at a respectable pace on a day when Smith struggled to find the gaps, taking 44 balls to score his first four runs and finishing on 43 off a painstaking 164 balls.
After a watchful start, Joe Burns was out lbw for nine by medium pacer Colin de Grandhomme. Replays suggested the ball would have missed leg stump but Burns decided not to review the decision.
In-form Warner fell in spectacular fashion just before the tea break for 43. Fresh off his unbeaten triple century against Pakistan in Adelaide, Warner looked set for another big innings but was dismissed by left-arm quick Neil Wagner who took a sharp return catch in his follow through.
New Zealand, who have only won one Test in Australia since their series triumph across the Tasman Sea in 1985-86, fought through temperatures approaching 40 degrees Celsius.
Updated: December 12, 2019 04:48 PM