Niall Anderson runs through all the takeaways from day two of the third test between the Black Caps and Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
A New Zealand test "record" was set in the Black Caps' bowling innings by Todd Astle, who bowled 32 overs without a maiden. It broke the previous mark, set by Hedley Howarth, also against Australia, and was the 24th most deliveries bowled in test history without a maiden over.
Astle did take two wickets late in the Australian innings, including that of double centurion Marnus Labuschagne, to drag his bowling average back from the mid-70s to 54.5 at the end of the innings, but he was also part of possibly the worst review of the summer. He and captain Tom Latham conferred to review a lbw shout on Australian captain Tim Paine, only to find that the skipper had hit his pad, then the ball, and the ball had never even hit the pad.
Astle could laugh it off at the end of the day, tactically shifting the blame to wicketkeeper BJ Watling.
"I've not really had the review system too much - at domestic level you don't get it. I had a feeling it might have hit him just outside leg stump - BJ was adamant it hit his foot first, so I think there was a bit of excitement. When they're not many down for quite a few runs, it was a case of 'alright, lets hope that we've got one right here' - but it didn't work out."
After Steve Smith received ironic cheers when getting off the mark on Friday, Paine was the recipient of good-natured booing yesterday when he hogged the strike when Labuschagne was on 199. Labuschagne was left one short of 200 for 20 minutes, creating an anxious crowd, but he eventually reached the magical milestones with an edge through a vacant slips cordon off Colin de Grandhomme.
Neil Wagner's short-ball attack didn't have quite as much success as in prior tests, but he did baffle James Pattinson. Pattinson tried to duck a ball which didn't bounce as high as he expected, and it went into his arm, then onto his glove, then deflected onto the back of his bat, and finally onto the stumps.
Tom Latham and Tom Blundell produced the Black Caps' best opening partnership of the series, and they did it slowly and surely. Latham faced Mitchell Starc and Blundell faced Pat Cummins to start the innings, with no strike rotation, as it took 10.3 overs until they finally swapped ends thanks to a bye. After 67 balls, the first single was taken, but there would have been no complaints from Black Caps fans as they reached stumps at 63-0.
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Who's on top?
Despite claiming their first session of the test - and arguably winning the day as well - the Black Caps are still 391 runs behind Australia, with a mix of inexperienced and out-of-form batsmen to come. However, the fact that they're going into day three in a solid position, rather than in a dire position like in the last two tests, is reason for them to celebrate.