It was expected to be a contest between two high-quality Test teams and the opening day of the Pink-ball Test between the Trans-Tasman rivals- Australia and New Zealand- at the Optus Stadium in Perth. It was a day of good old-fashioned Test match cricket where the New Zealand bowlers-led by the unrelenting Neil Wagner- kept the pressure on the Australian batsman in heat-sapping conditions but the likes of Marnus Labuschagne still found a way to show their class on what was a day of attrition.
With the temperatures in Perth soaring 40 degree Celsius and considering the game was scheduled to start at the peak of the afternoon, it was a no-brainer that whichever captain wins the toss will not hesitate one bit before opting to bat. And, Tim Paine didn’t! Australia batted first and the opening duo of David Warner and Joe Burns successfully nullified the first spell of Lockie Ferguson and Tim Southee.
Ferguson did pose questions to Warner and Burns with short-pitch bowling but the rookie fast bowler perhaps got a bit carried away with the bounce that the Perth pitch was offering. In a bid to compensate for the short-pitch stuff, the right-hander overcompensated with his length and ended up dishing half-volleys.
Williamson turned to the wobbly seam bowling option of Colin de Grandomme in a bid to get the first wicket, and it worked! Grandhomme got the ball to move in just a little bit to trap Burns LBW. However, the replay confirmed that the ball was comfortably going down the leg-side. Burns didn’t review and thus Kiwi got away with a lucky break.
If it was luck that brought the visitors their first wicket, the same can’t be said about the second. It was pure magic from Superman Wagner, who pulled off a one-handed stunner off his own bowling to get rid of dangerous-looking David Warner at the stroke of Tea.
Marnus Labuschagne’s batting was the highlight of the opening day
The first half of the second session provided for the best passage of play of the entire day. It was traditional Test match cricket where fast bowlers have got their tail up and are steaming in every ball, giving nothing away and the batsmen (even the greatest of them like Steven Smith in today’s case) were just looking to survive. Wagner had his tail up and in an inspired spell of bowling kept Smith on his toes even as the ever-improving Marnus Labuschagne was looking in a different league on the other end.
Wagner’ persistence could have finally paid rewards if not for Tom Latham dropping that catch in the slips of Lockie Ferguson. Labuschagne carried on with his merry way as the right-hander cashed in on anything lose by the bowlers to bring up his third successive hundred in Test cricket. And, if that wasn’t enough, the Kiwis lost the service of Lockie Ferguson who picked up an injury and is slated to take an MRI scan.
But, Wagner finally got the reward for his persistence when Smith once again fell into that leg-side trap. Tim Southee accounted for Matthew Wade with a brute of delivery but Labuschagne and Head ensured that there was no further hiccups, leading the home side to 4-248 at stumps.
Here’s how Twitter reacted:
It was Marnus Labuschagne's day in the sun! ☀
— Cricket Australia (@CricketAus) December 12, 2019
— Ricky Ponting AO (@RickyPonting) December 12, 2019
— The ACC (@TheACCnz) December 12, 2019
🏏 Marnus cannot be stopped!
— ABC Grandstand (@abcgrandstand) December 12, 2019
ever since he got a go as a concussion sub, labuschagne has become a consistent headache for bowling attacks #AUSvNZ
— Gaurav Kalra (@gauravkalra75) December 12, 2019
#Marnus has had a splendid 2⃣0⃣1⃣9⃣
— The National Sport (@NatSportUAE) December 12, 2019
Mark Waugh questioning BJ Watling’s decision to wear a helmet up to the stumps surely confirms the popular notion that he has watched absolutely no cricket at all in the last decade #AUSvNZ
— Dane (@eld2_0) December 12, 2019
Marnus Labuschange becomes the equal-fourth fastest Australian to 1000 Test runs, achieving the milestone in just 18 innings #AUSvNZ
— Samuel Ferris (@samuelfez) December 12, 2019
— Willhouse (@OldMateColvin) December 12, 2019
Marcus Labuschangne. You are going to hear this name more often in the next couple of years or even more in Test cricket. Proper test batsman. Not to forget he's replaced Steve Smith at number 3. #AUSvNZ
— Rohan Mamtora (@RohanMamtora) December 12, 2019
Labuschagne The Future of Australia Cricket Team 👏🏻
Hat-trick of 💯 in Tests 👏🏻#AUSvNZ
— Sarmad MALIK🇵🇰 (@sarmadaadeez) December 12, 2019
What would the odds have been at the start of the year of Marnus Labuschagne finishing 2019 as the leading Test run-scorer?
— CricBlog (@cric_blog) December 12, 2019
Australian cricket fans are pretty quiet about how a South African is carrying the team atm #AUSvNZ
— Undisputed Chapo Bay Bay (@Big_Chapi) December 12, 2019
— Niraj Khatri🏏❤️ (@NirajK07Cricket) December 12, 2019
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