By David Gray
PERTH (Reuters) – Skipper Steve Smith led Australia’s fightback after Ross Taylor broke a 112-year-old record with a magnificent 290 to give New Zealand a first-innings lead of 65 on the fourth day of the second test on Monday.
New Zealand’s pace attack drove home the advantage with the cheap removal of Australia’s openers Joe Burns and David Warner but Smith and Adam Voges steered the hosts to 128 for two at tea, a lead of 63 runs.
Smith notched up his half-century off 57 balls just before the break and will resume on 61 not out, while local Voges accumulated 43 at a more leisurely pace.
There was nothing pedestrian about Taylor’s mighty 374-ball knock and he maintained a strike rate of 77.54 as he dragged his side back into the contest and the series.
It was the highest score by any visiting batsman in Australia, bettering the previous record of 287 set by England’s Tip Foster on debut in Sydney in 1903.
It was also the third highest innings by any New Zealand batsman in a test match and eclipsed the 253 contributed by Warner to Australia’s first innings tally of 559-9 declared, which had looked almost unassailable on day two.
Just before lunch, though, the 31-year-old miscued a slog-sweep to substitute fielder Jonny Wells off the bowling of Nathan Lyon after more than nine hours at the crease to bring an end to New Zealand’s innings on 624.
New Zealand had resumed on 510 for six with Taylor on 235 and it looked like the righthander would only be stopped from reaching 300 by running out of partners.
Even though he came up short, his innings, which featured 43 fours, will have given New Zealand confidence they can at least earn a draw to keep the three-match series alive going into the final test in Adelaide.
Burns and Warner survived the one over remaining in the first session but Tim Southee struck to remove Burns for a duck with his first ball after lunch, an outswinger eliciting an edge and Taylor taking the catch at first slip.
Breaking the opening partnership, which had put together century stands in the first three innings of the series, was an achievement in itself but also removing Warner with just 46 runs on the board was a major breakthrough.
The lefthander, who had scored centuries in each of his three innings, had made 24 from 22 balls when he failed to keep a drive down and Tom Latham took a sharp catch at cover.
Smith came out at number three because of the hamstring injury to Usman Khawaja, who will miss Australia’s next two tests.
(Writing by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney; Editing by Julian Linden)