Mitchell Marsh ruined New Zealand’s hopes for a Brendon McCullum salvage mission after Adam Voges’ record-breaking double century put Australia firmly in command of the first Test in Wellington yesterday.
At stumps on the third day, New Zealand were 178 for 4 in their second innings, requiring a further 201 to make Australia bat again.
Test debutant Henry Nicholls was batting on 31 with McCullum lbw to Marsh in the final over of the day for 10.
Voges’ 239 was in part testament to how docile the pitch had become since New Zealand were rolled for 183 inside two sessions on the first day.
But there were still wickets to be had, as Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood found.
For New Zealand there were memories of being on the ropes against India at the same ground two years ago and being rescued by McCullum’s triple century.
The usually big-hitting captain was showing every sign of looking to dig in for a long stay with his 10 coming off 31 deliveries before he was out with three balls remaining in the day.
“To get McCullum (in the) last over of the day, the changing room’s pretty happy,” Voges said while adding he was also happy with his own contribution.
“I’m giving myself every chance to get in each time I bat and when I do get in I’m hungry to score big runs. To get to 200 today and get us into a great position is a very satisfying feeling.”
New Zealand were annoyed to lose McCullum, but batting coach Craig McMillan said it would make them more determined.
“It’s a blow when you lose any wicket in the last over. You prefer to have that extra wicket especially when it’s Brendon McCullum,” he said.
“But we’ve got six wickets left to fight and make it as difficult as we can over the next two days,” he added.
Martin Guptill (45) and Tom Latham put on 81 for the first wicket, New Zealand’s best opening stand against Australia since 1993. Kane Williamson fell for 22 while Latham grafted away for 63 before he tried to sweep Lyon to the leg side and skied the ball to Usman Khawaja at mid-off.
It was Voges, though, who ensured Australia had a firm grip on the match.
He resumed the third day on 176 and added a further 63 before his marathon 504 minutes in the middle ended caught and bowled by Mark Craig.
He had scored 614 runs since his previous dismissal, in the pink-ball Test against New Zealand at Adelaide in November, easily bettering the record of 497 runs between dismissals set by India’s Sachin Tendulkar in 2004.
It also left Voges’ Test average at 97.46 from 19 innings, after being ahead of Don Bradman’s all-time record of 99.94 before his wicket fell.
His double century—coupled with Usman Khawaja’s 140—also ensured a record first-innings lead for Australia against New Zealand in an innings where six Australians failed to reach double figures.
Latham and Guptill saw off the new ball but just as they looked comfortable, Guptill tried to smack off-spinner Lyon out of the ground and was caught by Marsh.
Hazlewood, Australia’s chief destroyer in the first innings, tempted Williamson to prod at a ball outside off and it was nicked through to wicketkeeper Peter Nevill.
It was a chance for Nevill to make amends after he had dropped Latham when the opener was on 31.
A huge deficit is a situation New Zealand know well at the Basin Reserve, where they request a green wicket to suit their strike bowlers. But if they lose the toss, the advantage goes to the opposition. Two years ago it required McCullum’s 302 to secure a draw against India after New Zealand trailed by 246 on the first innings.
Last year New Zealand were 135 behind Sri Lanka after the first innings and ended up winning by 193 after Williamson (242 not out) and Watling (142 not out put on 365 for the sixth wicket in the second innings and Mark Craig spun Sri Lanka out on day five.
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