BRISBANE (Reuters) – Usman Khawaja scored a magnificent 174 to help Australia to a dominant 556 for four declared on the second day of the first test at the Gabba on Friday.
New Zealand’s openers Tom Latham (27) and Martin Guptill (13) successfully withstood Australia’s pace attack for 13 overs to reach tea on 43 without loss.
The tourists still face an uphill task to save the first of three tests in the series, however, especially after paceman Tim Southee was helped off the field with a back injury.
New Zealand upped their game after a chastening opening day in which the hosts racked up 389-2 but, after removing Australia skipper Steve Smith for 48 early in the day, were apparently powerless to staunch the flow of runs.
Australia’s first day tally was a Gabba record and Smith was the only one of their batsmen to fail to pass 50.
Khawaja, who scored his maiden test century as Australia’s batsmen ruthlessly dominated day one, reverted to slow-scoring type against more consistent New Zealand bowling in the opening session, adding only just 31 to his overnight tally of 102.
He survived a review of a Trent Boult lbw appeal on the fourth delivery he faced when technology showed the ball had hit his pad outside the off-stump.
Boult did make the breakthrough soon afterwards with a perfect delivery that swung late and crashed through the gate to dismiss Smith with Australia still a run short of the 400 mark.
That was about as good as it got for New Zealand as Southee limped off with an irritated disc and Adam Voges raced to an 81-ball half century just before the lunch break.
Khawaja, playing his first test in more than two years, eased off the shackles when play resumed and stroked his 15th four to the third man boundary to reach his 150.
The end, when it came, was something of an anti-climax with the left hander miscuing a reverse sweep off Kane Williamson and Guptill scooping up the catch at gully.
The innings lasted 379 minutes and 239 balls with 16 fours and two elegant sixes.
Smith immediately called an end to the punishment and sent out pacemen Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc to try and drive home the advantage.
Voges, playing his first test on home soil at the age of 36, finished unbeaten on 83.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Greg Stutchbury)