Labuschagne stars as Australia all out for 416 against New Zealand
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Perth (Australia) (AFP) –
Marnus Labuschagne's 143 set Australia up for a challenging total of 416 as they were all out on the stroke of tea against New Zealand in the day-night first Test on Friday.
In stifling heat, the home team kept the Kiwis in the field for just a few minutes shy of five full sessions, with the last wicket falling in the final over before the break on day two.
It was slow going for much of the session before tea, with just 26 runs in the first hour as Australia looked to punish New Zealand by keeping them in the field after winning the toss and electing to bat, with the intention of bowling at the visitors in the final session under lights.
Just when it seemed Australia were destined for to score around 500, New Zealand gained some welcome relief when they claimed the last three wickets for just eight runs, with pacemen Tim Southee and Neil Wagner each finishing with four wickets.
In blisteringly hot conditions, and down a fast bowler due to debutant Lockie Ferguson's right calf injury, the visitors toiled away manfully as the mercury again climbed towards 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) and a bushfire broke out adjacent to the ground.
The Australian innings was anchored by Labuschagne, who looked set for his third successive innings over 150 when he was bowled by the determined Wagner(4-92).
The 25-year-old hadn't given a chance in reaching 143, but walked a little far across his stumps and the ball crashed into his leg stump to reward Wagner for a spirited spell.
Travis Head was looking to solidify his spot in the Australian side, but on 56 he hit a Southee (4-93) ball straight to Mitchell Santner at cover.
The fire started on the far side of the neighbouring Belmont racetrack about an hour before play, and smoke could be seen rising into the Perth sky.
It was quickly put out, but caused haze in the stadium for a short period -- echoing the bushfire smoke that plagued last week's Australian Open golf in Sydney.
© 2019 AFP