Aussies in charge
Kiwis’ bowlers put to the sword in first Test
Opener David Warner put New Zealand’s bowlers to the sword with a masterful 163 and Usman Khawaja scored his maiden Test century as Australia dominated the opening day of the first Test at the Gabba today.
The hosts finished the day on 389 for two with Khawaja, who was 102 not out, and new skipper Steve Smith, unbeaten on 41, set to resume their 78-run partnership on the second day of the three-Test series.
Warner, now one of Australia’s senior players after the retirement of a number of seasoned internationals, displayed patience as well as his trademark aggression in his second highest Test innings.
The 29-year-old had reached the half century mark in seven of his eight Tests in 2015 but had not been able to get to the century mark since he achieved the feat for the 12th time against India in Sydney in January.
His leap into the air after tucking the ball through cover point for two runs was ample illustration of what the century meant to him, but he was by no means done.
Warner’s second Test 150 was brought up with his 19th four and he had perhaps earned the right to a loose swipe when he got a thick edge on a James Neesham delivery which Ross Taylor caught brilliantly in the slips after 314 minutes at the crease.
Joe Burns, playing on his home ground in only his third Test, had provided able support to Warner in a 161-run opening stand before he was dismissed for 71 soon after lunch.
New Zealand quick Tim Southee gave a reminder of his quality with a peach of a delivery that nipped away and drew an edge which BJ Watling snaffled behind the stumps.
That brought Khawaja to the crease and he quickly showed that more than two years in the Test wilderness had not diminished his elegant stroke-play.
The 28-year-old got within one run of his third test half century with a sumptuous six and a single off the 60th ball he faced got him to the milestone.
Better was to come a few overs before the close, however, when he smashed his 10th four down to long-on to score a first Test hundred that many thought would come years sooner.
Australia have not lost a Test at the Gabba since 1988 and an end to that streak looked less likely when Smith won the toss and chose to bat.
New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum needed strike duo Trent Boult and Southee to get the ball swinging while there was still cloud cover over the ground.
Unfortunately for the tourists, it was not long before the sun had broken through and Australia’s new opening partnership weathered five overs of the new ball before getting into their stride.
A run-out chance when Burns flirted with calamity in the 10th over and another which Khawaja, on 60, survived with a dive for the crease at full stretch were rare clear-cut opportunities for the Black Caps.
They conceded more runs than any side on the first day of a Test at the Gabba and seamer Doug Bracewell (0-79), spinner Mark Craig (0-96) and Boult (0-90) will all want to forget the experience as quickly as possible.