Marnus Labuschagne continued his stellar show with the willow and scored his maiden double century as Australia posted a massive 454 in the first innings of the third Test against New Zealand at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Labuschagne made 215 off 363 deliveries before his marathon knock was ended caught and bowled by spinner Todd Astle in the second session of day two’s play.
The 25-year-old took over an hour to reach the last 19 runs he needed to reach his double hundred from the score of 181. He even survived a few scary moments while batting at 199 and crossed the hurdle with a thick edge off Colin de Grandhomme in the 346th ball he faced.
Labuschagne has scored 837 runs in the five matches he has played in the Australian summer with an incredible average of 119.6 and has also become the first batsman from down under to score four 140+ scores or more during the summer.
Resuming the day’s play at a score of 283/3, Australia lost two wickets in their way to adding 72 runs before the lunch in what has been the most even session in the match as the hosts had dominated the entire first day’s play.
Skipper Tim Paine hanged around for his 35 before some hard-hitting by Mitchell Starc (22) at the end helped Australia cross the 450 mark. Grandhomme and Neil Wagner were the most successful Kiwi bowlers for their figures of 3/78 and 3/66 respectively.
As a result of their dismal performance in the series so far, New Zealand were forced to make five changes for the match. Their trouble did not seem to have any end as pacer Matt Henry broke the thumb of his non-bowling arm and Jeet Raval was declared ill.
Henry, though, continued to bowl with the injured finger covered under heavy strapping when the play commenced on Saturday. Raval also took to the field late into the first session.
On Friday, Earlier, Tim Paine elected to bat on a placid Sydney wicket which doesn’t seem to have much for the bowlers. The match started with tributes to the firefighters battling catastrophic firestorms around the country. The crowd at the SCG rose to its feet to join both the teams in a minute of applause to honour the volunteer firefighters before the start of play and players wore black armbands.