WICKET! Wagner b Starc 0 (New Zealand 97-5)
Bowled him first ball! The classic Starc yorker it was, a little inside edge, then back onto the woodwork! He’s on a hat-trick next over.
29th over: New Zealand 97-5 (Taylor 51) New Zealand lose their number five and their nightwatchman in consecutive balls. Shocker.
WICKET! Nicholls c Paine b Starc 7 (New Zealand 97-4)
Strangled down the legside! Paine had quite a bit to do moving to his right but he’s one of the best in the business for a reason. Just what New Zealand couldn’t afford to happen this close to stumps.
28t over: New Zealand 90-3 (Taylor 51, Nicholls 3) Cummins is banging into Taylor, hitting him on the thigh pad then finding his inside edge past short leg later in the set. Every ball an examination.
We have an update on Hazlewood from CA. He has a left hamstring strain and will undergo an MRI scan tonight. That’s all for now.
Taylor to 50
27th over: New Zealand 89-3 (Taylor 50, Nicholls 3) Ummm, Labuschagne is convinced Nicholls has edged the final Starc delivery and is going WILD at short leg. Except… he’s the only man appealing. Snicko shows that there is no edge. There was a noise. “100% I heard something,” he says on the stump mic. Gotta love his enthusiasm. Earlier in the over, Taylor reached his half-century with a single off his hip. “One of the grittiest in his career,” Ian Smith’s assessment.
26th over: New Zealand 88-3 (Taylor 49, Nicholls 3) Good call getting Cummins back in the act with eight overs (or half an hour) left. As I predicted when the innings started, there’s some chance Australia won’t get through a session worth of overs with the added half an hour. Sigh. Anyway, Cummins is brilliant. Some indecision early in the over leads to a direct hit at the non-strikers’ end from midwicket. The check upstairs but Nicholls is safely home. Taylor’s edge is found and his bat is beaten before the over is done. Seven overs left but a long, long way to go for New Zealand. Compelling cricket.
25th over: New Zealand 83-3 (Taylor 45, Nicholls 2) Taylor keeps the board ticking, driving a couple past mid off before grabbing another around the corner. Nicholls deals with the rest. Gotta get to stumps.
There are 20,018 at the Casino Stadium tonight, CA have told us. The final Test at the WACA in 2017 had 22,000-plus on each of the first two days. Presented without further comment.
24th over: New Zealand 80-3 (Taylor 42, Nicholls 2) I admit, I’m down a youtube wormhole on brilliant Smith catches and I haven’t watched a lot of that Lyon over. I know three runs were taken off it and Nicholls was off the mark with a couple behind square.
Was this Smith’s best catch tonight? Or was it this, as a chubby kid?
Or this from 2016?
23rd over: New Zealand 77-3 (Taylor 41, Nicholls 0) Henry Nicholls walks out for his first Test innings in Australia and defends to begin with a nice, broad blade. He’s a very organised player. Ooh, Labuschagne is in the game to finish, collecting the ball on the bounce. “Those are the catches you dream of,” says Mark Waugh on commentary. He should know. Cue up the 1999 World Cup Final.
Actually, more AB areas.
WICKET! Williamson c Smith b Starc 34 (New Zealand 77-3)
A ONE-HANDED RIPPER! One of the best catches you’ll ever see from Steve Smith, diving to his right at full stretch at second slip, his right hand dragging the chance in. Starc beat him with a beauty the ball before and now wins the contest. A huge moment in this game.
22nd over: New Zealand 76-2 (Williamson 34, Taylor 40) Lyon around the wicket with two catchers on the legside to Williamson. “Let’s have them run each other out!” roars Paine, hinting at the fact that these two have been involved in many mix-ups over the years. It’s a good over from Lyon, which ends with Williamson opening up the face of his bat just enough to run it past Smith at slip and down to the rope. Hands on heads, but he knew what he was doing.
21st over: New Zealand 71-2 (Williamson 30, Taylor 39) Starc to Williamson. He isn’t using his bat for the first half of the over, happy to let Starc do his thing short of a length. When he does come back at the batsman, he responds with soft hands in defence. This is superb Test Match cricket between some of the best players in the world.
20th over: New Zealand 71-2 (Williamson 30, Taylor 39) Tidy from Lyon, his length brougth back a tad to deny Taylor the drive. The TV cuts to shots of The Richies at the end of the over. No comment.
19th over: New Zealand 69-2 (Williamson 29, Taylor 38) Starc is back and Williamson is up to the task, leaping into a full ball with immaculate timing, out to the cover point boundary. So good. But Starc bounces straight back with an unplayable, jagging away from Williamson from a full length after pitching on middle. Too good. The Black Cap numbero uno keeps his cool to drive a couple more out in the cover direction to finish. So much relies on these two getting to the close. There are 14 overs remaining tonight.
18th over: New Zealand 63-2 (Williamson 23, Taylor 38) Taylor continues to take the game to Lyon, driving him through cover for a couple then getting two more behind point, albeit off the edge. Paine can’t glove one down the legside, a bye added, before Williamson keeps the strike with an ODI-esque single down the ground. Better.
“This series has lived up to its hype so far,” Abhijato Sensarma declares. “The batting and bowling on display makes for excellent viewing. New Zealand bucked the trend of away losses by winning an all-time great series in the UAE … If they do it here, which they very much can, it’ll firmly put New Zealand on the map as a real WTC contender. Who do you think will meet India at Lord’s for the Final?”
Australia will have to get it done in Bangladesh and maybe the UAE, which they weren’t able to do in the previous cycle. New Zealand in England won’t be easy, either. In short: way too early to call.
17th over: New Zealand 57-2 (Williamson 22, Taylor 34) Classic Williamson to start again after drinks, using the pace of Cummins to ease him behind point for four. The short ball is evaded with a bit more ease, the defence is tight. It took a while, but the captain is set.
16th over: New Zealand 53-2 (Williamson 18, Taylor 34) Taylor opens up the arms, not without some risk. His drive through cover is in the air, prompting a roar of catch from Paine, but it is wide of the man and down to the rope. He goes again later in the over, getting to the ball after coming down the track, clearing cover. To finish, a deft late cut makes it three boundaries from the over as they go to drinks. Clever batting, denying Lyon the chance to get into his groove.
15th over: New Zealand 41-2 (Williamson 18, Taylor 22) Cummins vs Williamson: give me all that you’ve got. Ooh, and he’s only gone and hit him on the hand, the ball then deflecting onto his box. He gives himself a chance to gather his thoughts after that and fair enough, too. Composed, he gets through the rest of it safely.
14th over: New Zealand 41-2 (Williamson 18, Taylor 22) Shot. Taylor leans on a wider ball that he turns into a half-volley with a big stride, creaming it through cover to move into the 20s. Just as it was in his first over, he then dragged the length back and tightened the screws.
13th over: New Zealand 37-2 (Williamson 18, Taylor 18) Cummins beats Williamson this time; a ball he had to play at, straightening a treat beyond his bat. He’s testing him short and full. Box Office.
12th over: New Zealand 36-2 (Williamson 18, Taylor 17) The Wade Experiment comes to an end for now, Nathan Lyon thrown the ball for his first twist. He’s too full to Williamson early on, a half-volley timed safely through cover for four. He finds his range thereafter. With Hazlewood more than likely out of the match, this will be the first of many overs he is asked to bowl over the next few days.
11th over: New Zealand 32-2 (Williamson 14, Taylor 17) Gosh, this interrogation is not getting any less troubling for the Black Caps. Cummins is ferocious, finding the edge then beating it with a shorter ball that lifts at Taylor. He then tempts him outside the off-stump; the 36-year-old too smart to fall for that trick. A legitimate bouncer finishes the over, so potent that Paine has to leap one-handed to drag it down to in effect save four byes. Excellent wicketkeeping.
10th over: New Zealand 32-2 (Williamson 14, Taylor 17) Williamson did hit the last ball of the previous over! We get the snicko on screen and it’s conclusive. Oh dear. Smith was the one Australian who heard the edge. Reminiscent of Steve Waugh at the MCG in 2002 against England in that sketchy fourth-innings chase. Meanwhile, Wade beats Taylor a second time with another outswinger that does plenty. The over doesn’t get any better than that – some looser deliveries worked around the field for three singles – but he’s very much in the contest as the sun starts to set over Casino Stadium.
9th over: New Zealand 29-2 (Williamson 13, Taylor 15) There’s a nice graphic showing how late Williamson plays the ball, which serves him well against an unrelenting Cummins. And one time the big quick misses his mark, he’s right in position to clip it away for four. Good batting. Oh, less so the last ball, wafting and missing outside the line of the off-stump. Behind the wicket, Smith reckons he might have tickled it but there’s no response from the bowler or captain.
8th over: New Zealand 24-2 (Williamson 9, Taylor 14) Welcome to the attack in the eighth over a Test Match innings… Matthew Wade! With Hazlewood off the field and no all-rounder, he is the next in the pecking order as far as a seam option is concerned. I’ve watched him bowl plenty the nets and he does quite often make life tough for the established batsmen. Anyway, it’s a bit of a mixed bag, as you might expect. He beats Taylor with a lovely outswinger to begin, curling past the blade… then bumps him! But the veteran isn’t missing out the second time the short ball comes down, hammering it behind square for four. By the end of the set, Wade has lost his radar.
“Hi Adam.” Hi Henry Coleman. “Perhaps understandably, a little surly this morning. Given the blessed wonders of escapism in this cricket match as a UK neutral, and the fact you worked in politics for a time, do you have any good yarns of Antipodean politics or sport that may offer a hopeful thought this morning? From one citizen of the world to another, Harry. p.s. cricket x.”
Yes, cricket. In the interests of keeping this vaguely non-political, I’ll shoulder arms. But yes. I feel you.
7th over: New Zealand 19-2 (Williamson 9, Taylor 9) Less going on here for Starc with Williamson, as they say, getting into his work. The Black Caps skipper plays a neat drive through cover, which should do wonders for his confidence. Earlier in the over, Taylor made decent contact off the back foot, cutting three for himself.
6th over: New Zealand 12-2 (Williamson 5, Taylor 6) Cummins wants in on this too, beating Taylor on the inside edge to start his fresh set, not far from the woodwork once more. An edge, albeit one more or less along the ground, follows. Four runs added; some respite. Sure enough, Cummins is back close to the timber hitting the back pad. The huge shout is turned down and Paine doesn’t refer it – contact outside the line? It doesn’t end there. A probing short ball under Taylor’s arm is just kept away from trouble, once again into that leg gully region. Time for a fielder there? Oh, and to finish, Williamson nearly chops on for the third time in his innings so far! Superb stuff!
5th over: New Zealand 7-2 (Williamson 5, Taylor 1) Every single ball something is happening. To begin Starc’s over, Taylor creams a straight drive but he gets nothing for it – Williamson’s body is in the way. Next comes the shorter ball – if a leg gully was in play, that was a chance. Next a shout for leg before against Williamson, albeit an ambitious one. A rapid bouncer to finish at the skipper, getting under it at the very last moment. The one saving grace for New Zealand is that there is no longer a shadow across the middle of the pitch. It really was a terrible time for them to start this innings but Australia have made it count. Meanwhile, Patto for Boxing Day?
4th over: New Zealand 6-2 (Williamson 5, Taylor 0) Cummins to complete the over with four balls to go in it and immediately finds Williamson’s inside edge. Dear me, not far away from the captain chopping on to give the man they call Winx a wicket with his first delivery. “It’s really tough out there,” says Ian Smith. Too right it is.
Seeing the replay, it’s definitely Hazlewood’s left hamstring causing him trouble. The ball before pulling up he grabbed for that leg. CA are usually pretty good with injury updates – we’ll have one soon.
Hazlewood leaves the field injured!
On the way to bowl the third ball of his second over, Hazlewood pulls up in his run – only about five paces into it – and immediately leaves the field.
3rd over: New Zealand 2-2 (Williamson 1, Taylor 0) Starc is bowling quickly and accurately with movement back towards Taylor from over the wicket. In other words: a complete bloody nightmare. Oh, and now he’s pinned him on the shoulder with a short ball. Then some drama to finish! Taylor clips well to midwicket and takes on Cummins! You don’t do that. The athlete makes a diving stop and throw. A direct hit would have been that. Instead, a Warner haS enough time to push the ball onto the woodwork after a dive of his own. The TV ump shows Taylor to be in by a foot. Was his bat grounded? Anyway, he’s given not out. IT’S ALL HAPPENING.
2nd over: New Zealand 1-2 (Williamson 0, Taylor 0) What a formidale record Hazlewood has since returning to this XI at Lord’s. Since then, he’s been taking his wickets at 20-odd. Sure enough, he’s right on the money to the new man Taylor, who is defending from off-stump.
WICKET! Raval b Hazlewood 1 (New Zealand 1-2)
It’s a beauty! Raval shouldn’t have been trying to whip Hazlewood from the line of the off stump and he pays the price, his middle pole bent back when the delivery comes back through the gate from over the wicket. What a bowler, what a start.
1st over: New Zealand 1-1 (Raval 1, Williamson 0) Now Williamson walks out with one ball to face in the first over of New Zealand’s reply. There’s an appeal from Paine for a legside caught behind too, albeit not an overly enthusiastic one. It clipped his thigh pad.
Earlier in the over, Starc was right on the money straight away; Raval solid in defence. As Michael Vaughan said on TV, what a tough time to open with shadows all over the pitch from the grandstands. He was then off the mark with one off his hip, via the inside edge.
Right, Australia have 33 overs to bowl and 122 minutes from the start until the scheduled close. The question: how many overs will they burn when they don’t get these in – even with the extra half hour?
WICKET! Latham c & b Starc 0 (New Zealand 1-1)
Latham is gone second ball! He tried to work Starc into the legside to get off the mark but instead, his leading edge returned safely to the bowler for the easiest of catches. Yuk.
Alright, the players are back on the field. Raval and Latham, two southpaws, opening for New Zealand. Another, Mitch Starc, has the ball in his hand for Australia. And he’s in good nick. PLAY!
Great news for people who care about Glenn Maxwell. Which should be all of us. He’s back in business. Go you good thing.
“Morning Collo.” Hello, Nick Toovey. “Seems that the doomsayers of D/N cricket have dropped off that high horse. There doesn’t seem to be any real mention of two separate stats lists anymore?”
They are still out there and I’m sympathetic to some of the arguments. However, I’m glad we’re beyond the stats debate.
The changeover is also the tea break. Wagner is on the telly giving an unbeat interview, very happy to get the job done despite being a bowler down with Ferguson ruled out with a calf injury this time yesterday. In this heat, it’s an especially good effort. Starc’s cameo and Paine’s patience got the hosts beyond their primary goal of 400. All told, it’s nicely set up for another eventful session under lights!
I’ll leave you with that Williamson catch. Back after a coffee.
AUSTRALIA ALL-OUT 416! WICKET! Paine c Watling b Southee 39.
A short ball ends the innings too, Paine tickling a hook shot into the gloves of Watling, who completes a tidy diving catch. Southee finishes with 4/93 to go with Wagner’s 4/92.
WICKET! Lyon c de Grandhomme b Wagner 8 (Australia 416-9)
Fun while it lasted! Lyon is caught at fine leg by de Grandhomme, ultimately falling for the Wagner trap. But he did collect consecutive boundaries by successfully taking on the short ball, pulling with authority to the square leg boundary then hooking successfully too. But Wagner persisted and it worked. He’s earned four wickets.
146th over: Australia 416-9 (Paine 39)
WICKET! Starc c Williamson b Southee 30 (Australia 408-8)
What a catch by the captain! Running back with the flight from mid-off towards the rope, he’s pulled in a beauty over his left shoulder.
145th over: Australia 408-8 (Paine 39)