Australia lost 7/130 on day 2 of the Perth Test. Only 2 players got more than 50 in their 1st innings. They were bowled out for 60 and collapsed on demand in England 3 months ago. If New Zealand get a lead on day four, what are the chances of another collapse and a dramatic finish at the WACA?
Cricket administrators and telecasters will certainly hope something like this manifests. And it’s not impossible. Australia has collapsed often.
They have, perhaps with the exception of Chris Rogers, lacked players who are able to defy conditions and reverse the fortunes of momentum. When the game turns, Australia has inevitably collapsed.
In contrast they are red hot when momentum is on their side, when one or two players seize the day with a thunderous spell of fast bowling or a quick-fire ton.
David Warner did that in Perth on day one by blazing 247. Khawaja went with him for most of the day crafting a fine 121.
Australia started day 2 at an almost impregnable 2/416. Many chalked up a massive win for Australia.
But New Zealand fought back hard. They bowled exceptional lines on day 2 and restricted Australia to only 70 runs for the loss of two wickets in the morning session. An hour later Australia had lost another 5 wickets for 61 making 7/130 in three hours.
They were chasing quick runs for a declaration many said. They were collapsing I contend. There was no need to rush things and the strike rates of Australia’s batsmen prove that they did not (Mitch Marsh 34 from 64 balls, Voges 41 from 83, Smith 27 from 68).
At 9 down Steve Smith had enough and called the declaration at 559.
Thanks to world class batting from Kane Williamson (166) and Ross Taylor (235*) New Zealand had amassed 6/510 by stumps on day three.
“It’s a road” went the familiar cry. Yes. This is not a quintessential Perth pitch but this is a fascinating Test Match. Nobody should think that the batting clinic put on by Warner, Khawaja, Williamson and Taylor was simply the product of a conducive wicket. Those innings were world class.
Taylor’s defiance of the second new ball spell yesterday should go down in the ages. Mitchell Starc bowled between 150 and 161.8kmph in 40 minutes of wrath and fury that snapped Brendon McCullum’s bat.
At present, New Zealand is only 15 runs from leading the Test Match.
Of course, the short-priced favourite is a draw but with 175 overs to go, who would seriously suggest that this Test Match is already over?
Only those who haven’t seen Australia bat very often in the past 5 years.