PERTH: Australia quick Mitchell Starc tore through New Zealand’s batting-order shortly before stumps on a dramatic day two, as the hosts gained a stranglehold of the first test on Friday.
In reply to Australia’s first innings of 416, New Zealand teetered at 109 for five at the close with veteran Ross Taylor unbeaten on 66 and BJ Watling yet to score.
A fired-up Starc took four wickets, including the prized scalp of Kane Williamson (34) followed by Henry Nicholls (7) and nightwatchman Neil Wagner (0) in successive balls.
A flagging New Zealand had lost both their openers within the first 10 deliveries. Australia, however, will be sweating on the fitness of quick Josh Hazlewood who was forced off the field in the fourth over after pulling up short in his run-up with an apparent left hamstring injury.
Both teams could be without a paceman after debutant New Zealand quick Lockie Ferguson, himself a replacement for injured spearhead Trent Boult, damaged his calf on day one.
Stark lamented Hazlewood’s injury. “It makes it tough with a bowler down and it certainly was for the Kiwis with Ferguson going down,” he told reporters. “The plus side is we have got them five down tonight.”
After a dour opening two sessions, the day-nighter came alive under lights as Australia’s menacing attack conjured sharp bounce and pace of the Perth Stadium pitch.
New Zealand started disastrously when opener Tom Latham fell for a duck on the fifth delivery of the innings after spooning a return catch to a fired-up Starc.