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Labuschagne makes half century as Australia bat first in fire-threatened Test match

Posted January 3rd, 2020, 10:01 AM IST

Labuschagne makes half century as Australia bat first in fire-threatened Test match

Australia were 161 for 2 wickets down after making a solid start to the third Test cricket match on Friday against a virus-hit New Zealand with Marnus Labuschagne unbeaten on 68.

The home team went into lunch at t 95 for one, having lost Joe Burns in the first hour. Burns fell in the 15th over, squared up by Colin de Grandhomme and caught by Ross Taylor at first slip for 18.




De Grandhomme opened the bowling with Matt Henry after senior paceman Tim Southee was surprisingly left out of the attack.

Australia won the toss and chose to bat against the visitors, who made five changes to the team that lost the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne by 247 runs.

The Test is being played against the backdrop of one of Australia's most devastating bushfire seasons with at least 18 people losing their lives in blazes raging across the country, including on the outskirts of Sydney.

Play will be suspended in the match at the umpire's discretion, should smoke significantly affect air quality or visibility, but the sky above the ground was clear during morning play.

The Black Caps went into the Sydney Test without skipper and star batsman Kane Williamson, who has been ill in the lead-up.

Batsman Henry Nicholls and spinner Mitchell Santner were other illness withdrawals while Southee lost his place to leg-spinner Todd Astle.

Paceman Trent Boult is also missing after returning home with a broken hand suffered in the second Test in Melbourne.

Batsman Glenn Phillips, who made a late dash to Sydney Thursday as cover, was named to make his Test debut, with opener Tom Latham to lead the side in Williamson's absence.

Will Somerville, Matt Henry and Jeet Raval were also called into the side, while the Australians were unchanged after considering Mitchell Swepson as a second spinner.

Australia have been unbeatable this season, winning all four Tests at home -- two each against Pakistan and New Zealand -- after retaining the Ashes in England.

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