SYDNEY, Jan 3: Marnus Labuschagne hit his fourth century in just 14 Tests to guide Australia into a commanding position against virus-hit New Zealand on the opening day of the third Test in Sydney on Friday.
The rock-solid number three, last year’s leading Test scorer with 1,104 runs at 64.94, again proved the Black Caps’ nemesis with his second ton of the series to continue his remarkable scoring sequence.
Supported by Steve Smith’s 28th Test half-century, Australia reached stumps at 283 for three with Labuschagne unbeaten on 130 and Matthew Wade a breezy 22 not out.
The South African-born Labuschagne has now scored four centuries in seven Test innings this southern summer against Pakistan and New Zealand.
“Terrific day,” he said. “When you bat on day one you know it can be a real prosperous day but if you get off to a shaky start it can be tough work.
“It’s all a bit of a whirlwind at the moment. I haven’t really sat down and completely thought about how amazing this summer has been for me.”
Smith, who took 39 balls to get off the mark, shared in a 156-run stand with Labuschagne before he again missed out after a lengthy stay and was caught at slip off Colin de Grandhomme for 63 off 182 balls.
David Warner fell again to the leg-side trap on the third ball after lunch when he was caught by de Grandhomme at leg gully off Neil Wagner for 45.
Australia 1st innings: D Warner c de Grandhomme b Wagner 45, J Burns c Taylor b de Grandhomme 18, M Labuschagne not out 130, S Smith c Taylor b de Grandhomme 63, M Wade not out 22; Extras (lb3, nb1, w1) 5. Total (3 wkts; 90 overs) 283. Fall of wickets: 1-39, 2-95, 3-251. Bowling: Henry 21-1-68-0, de Grandhomme 18-1-63-2 , Wagner 21-6-48-1, Somerville 13-0-52-0, Astle 17-0-49-0. – AFP