Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Starc stars as Australia down New Zealand in Pink-Ball Test

Marnus Labuschagne delivered a superlative batting performance followed by Mitchell Starc brilliant spell of bowling helped Australia registered a comprehensive 296-run win in the opening Test of three-match series played at Perth.

The match started with Australian Captain Tim Paine winning the toss and opting to bat first. The decision seemed a correct one as the hosts reached to 225 for the loss of four wickets, courtesy decent performances from David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith.

Marnus Labuschagne continued to be positive and notched up this third ton for Australia in Test cricket. He put on crucial partnerships with Steve Smith and Travis Head to see Australia score their runs at a decent rate. The lower-order comprising of Tim Paine, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc added 89 runs to see Australia score 416 runs in their 146.2 overs.

Marnus Labuschagne finished the innings with the top score of 143 off 240 balls with the help of eighteen fours and one six, whereas Travis Head scored 56 off 97 balls with the help of 10 boundaries.

For New Zealand, pace duo of Tim Southee and Neil Wagner bowled well and picked up four wickets apiece.

Hosts Australia take 1-0 lead in three match-Test series with a comprehensive win at Perth

In reply, visitors had a worst possible start to their innings as Tom Latham and Jeet Raval perished in the initial two overs of the innings. Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor led the fightback for New Zealand and put on a 76-run partnership for the third wicket. Williamson was dismissed by a stunning catch from Steven Smith. Mitchell Starc dismissed Neil Wagner and Henry Nicholls to see New Zealand reeling at 97 for 5 after 29 overs.

Ross Taylor fought hard with the bat and smashed 80 runs off 134 balls with the help of nine boundaries. The rest of the batting lineup failed to contribute to see New Zealand get bundled out for 166 runs in 55.2 overs.

For Australia, Left-arm quick Mitchell Starc was the best bowler on show as he claimed figures of 5 for 52 in 18 overs. Off-spinner Nathan Lyon claimed two wickets in the innings.

In the second innings, the hosts got off to perfect start and were comfortably placed at 131 to 2 after 42.2.  After losing Steven Smith and Joe Burns in quick sucession, Australia failed to get going in their innings and declared at 217 for 9, courtesy splendid half-centuries from Labuschagne and Burns.

For New Zealand, Pacer Tim Southee was the pick of the bowlers in this innings. He finished with figures of 5 for 69 in 21.1 overs. Neil Wagner also delivered excellent performance and claimed three wickets.

Chasing 468 runs to win the first Test, Mitchell Starc dismissed Jeet Raval to set the tone for Australia with the new-ball. Nathan Lyon made use of the assistance from the pitch and dismissed Tom Latham and Kane Williamson. Starc dismissed Taylor to see New Zealand lose their fourth wicket with 57 runs on the board.

BJ Watling and Colin de Grandhomme fought hard but it wasn’t enough as New Zealand were bundled out for 171 runs in 65.3 overs.

Mitchell Starc was the best bowler on show as he claimed figures of 4 for 45, whereas off-spinner Nathan Lyon claimed four wickets and gave away 63 runs. With this result, Australia beat New Zealand by a big margin to go 1-0 up in the three-match series.

For claiming nine wickets in the match, left-arm quick Mitchell Starc was named player of the match. The second game of the series will be played at Melbourne Cricket Ground on Boxing Day (26th December.

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