Labuschagne bats on towards double ton in Sydney Test


Sydney (AFP)

Marnus Labuschagne was proving an indomitable obstacle for New Zealand as he neared a double century in searing temperatures to build Australia's first innings in the third Test on Saturday.

Resuming on 130, Labuschagne moved to 181 at lunch in Sydney with Australia at 354 for five, adding just 71 runs off 28 overs. Tim Paine was not out on 10.

Labuschagne had faced 308 balls and was playing with patience, waiting for the right ball to score.

The rock-solid number three was Test cricket's leading run-getter last year with 1,104 runs and is carrying on where he left off in 2019.

The Australians lost two wickets on the second morning of the Test.

Matthew Wade was out in the day's first over, bowled off-stump while attempting to sweep off-spinner Will Somerville for no addition to his overnight score of 22.

With ideal batting conditions in soaring temperatures, the second new ball 10 overs old and a weakened Kiwi bowling attack, it was a poor judgment by Wade so early in the day.

Melbourne Test centurion Travis Head fell to Matt Henry, cutting too close to his body and snicking to wicketkeeper BJ Watling.

The Kiwi bowlers had strangled his scoring shots and his 10 runs came off 42 balls.

Henry was bowling despite fracturing his left thumb on Friday. He had the injury strapped and placed in a splint to continue on playing in the Test.

"It's not ideal, it's a bit frustrating, we knew we needed some early wickets," Henry said as he left the field for lunch.

"Somerville got us one in the first over and then thankfully I got one as well.

"Hopefully, we can tie him up after lunch and then try and get rid of him," he said of Labuschagne.

The Sydney Test is being played against the backdrop of one of Australia's most devastating bushfire seasons with at least 20 people losing their lives in blazes raging across the country, including on the outskirts of Sydney.

Play will be suspended in the match at the umpire's discretion, should smoke significantly affect air quality or visibility, but the sky above the ground has remained clear so far.