Williamson carries New Zealand’s hopes after huge Australian total
PERTH: In-form batsman Kane Williamson carried New Zealand hopes with another fighting half-century at stumps on the second day of the second Test at the WACA Ground yesterday. After Australia had declared their first innings at 559 for nine, New Zealand were 140 for two in reply on an easy-going pitch. Williamson was unbeaten on 70, with Ross Taylor on 26 not out, the pair having added 53 runs but the Kiwis still trailing by 419 runs with eight wickets in hand. Put in to bat around 40 minutes before tea, the Kiwis lost both their openers.
Martin Guptill was trapped leg before wicket by left-arm quick Mitchell Starc for just one when the score was six. Tom Latham again looked solid in making 36, but Australian captain Steve Smith was rewarded for his decision to bring off-spinner Nathan Lyon back into the attack. Lyon removed Latham in his first over after tea with Smith taking a sharp catch low to his left. Williamson again looked in total control after scoring 140 and 59 in Brisbane, and his only moments of concern came when his concentration appeared to waver during a short spell by all-rounder Mitchell Marsh provoking him to play a couple of false shots.
One significant setback for Australia during the second day was an apparent hamstring injury suffered by first innings centurion Usman Khawaja. The 28-year-old, who has scored centuries in the two Tests against the Kiwis and made 121 on Friday, pulled up sharply after chasing a ball to the boundary and immediately left the field. He didn’t return and Cricket Australia said his injury would be assessed today. Earlier in the day, New Zealand foiled Australian opener David Warner’s bid to break more batting records when they removed him for 253, caught in slips off paceman Trent Boult. Australia, ahead 1-0 in the threematch series after a 208-run win in Brisbane, had resumed at 416 for two, with Warner on 244 and eyeing Matthew Hayden’s record WACA score of 380 against Zimbabwe in 2003. However, he added just nine runs before some much-improved bowling from Boult had him edging to Mark Craig in slips.
‘Determined and focused’
It was the second-highest individual score at the ground, behind only Hayden’s massive knock. Warner faced 286 balls and was at the crease for 409 minutes, hitting 24 boundaries and two sixes in an impressive innings that was the highest of his career and his first double-century at Test level. Warner said he was pleased to bat for such a long period for the second match in succession. “I faced 200 balls for the first time last game,” he said. “For me it is about being determined and focused. “I achieved what I set out to do and that was to score a double hundred in my career, and it has put us into a great position. “But it’s going to be tough to take 20 wickets on this deck.”
At one stage Australia were 512 for four yesterday, but they collapsed after lunch with New Zealand spinner Craig (3-123) on a hat-trick as the wickets tumbled in the chase for quick runs. Paceman Doug Bracewell (2-81) provided a rare moment of delight for the visitors when he took a brilliant reflex catch off his own bowling to remove Marsh for 34. Bracewell, who conceded a draw was their main focus, said the Kiwis were rewarded for bowling with more consistency. “It was pretty pleasing to have a good day like that after yesterday,” he said. “We spoke about improving and being more consistent and we got a few rewards. “We talked about making them hit our good balls rather than giving them the release we were yesterday.”— AFP