SYDNEY (Reuters) – Marnus Labuschagne continued his purple appearance in the New Year when Australia took 182 points for tea on Friday on the first day of the third test against a disease-ridden New Zealand team and missing captain Kane Williamson.
Australia's Marnus Labuschagne in a file photo.Reuters / Paul Childs / File Photo
A team from Blacks Caps with five changes from the team that lost to Melbourne to relegate the three-game streak fought well, but Labuschagne looked good when he scored 73 goals in the last seven innings.
Steve Smith was undefeated at 42, had shot 39 balls and was determined not to fall for New Zealand's quick starter Neil Wagner for the fifth time in this series, who apparently had overcome his desire to score.
Wagner picked up a big wicket when he removed David Warner for three balls after lunch. The Australian start got Colin de Grandhomme a nice catch.
De Grandhomme was responsible for one wicket falling in the first session when he caught the other opener, Joe Burns, on the outside edge for 18 years.
The day started messy for New Zealand when Williamson and batsman Henry Nicholls were banned from the flu virus just before the throw while Spinner Mitchell Santner was too sick to leave the team hotel.
Tom Latham was named Captain of Williamson and his first act was to lose a litter that tourists would have desperately wanted to win after selecting two spinners and dropping Paceman Tim Southee.
After Southee's usual striker Trent Boult was injured, New Zealand started a test for the first time in more than a decade, with neither of them or Williamson at their side.
Both teams wore black armbands to commemorate those who lost their lives in the bushfires and joined the crowd before the game started to applaud the emergency services who were fighting the conflagration.
The sky was clear of the bushfire that has covered the city several times in the past few months, and the organizers have been preparing for delays during the game.
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Edited by Richard Pullin, Himani Sarkar & Shri Navaratnam