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Cricket news - Paine, Starc help Australia cross 400

Travis Head & Tim Paine (right) added vital runs in the lower middle-order.

Travis Head & Tim Paine (right) added vital runs in the lower middle-order.

Tim Paine (39) and Mitchell Starc (30) added useful runs, with Australia extending their dominance in the second session of Day 2 of the Perth Test versus New Zealand. The hosts were bowled out for 416 at the Tea break.

With the Kookaburra ball going soft, New Zealand's plan in the post-Lunch session was to plug the run-scoring opportunities, and the bowlers stuck to the strategy admirably. Kane Williamson introduced Mitchell Santner and Jeet Raval's part-time legspin in his attempt to dry up the runs, a ploy that eventually worked with Pat Cummins attempting the sweep and getting cleaned up by Raval, who also bagged his maiden Test scalp.

Starc, who replaced Cummins at the crease, decided to up the ante by slog sweeping Raval and Mitchell Santner through midwicket. To make matters worse for the visitors, Raval dropped a chance at mid-on off Southee. The veteran pacer, though, had the last laugh, as Starc mishit a lofted shot in the 145th over with Williamson pouching a well-judged catch.

Nathan Lyon and Tim Paine looked for quick runs and fell to Wagner and Southee respectively on the brink of tea. The pace duo, who bowled some incisive spells under severe heat, shared four spoils each. Earlier, as the second day commenced, Marnus Labuschagne looked (143) set to convert his hundred into a double. The way the number three batsman drove and flicked Tim Southee and Colin de Grandhomme was an indicator that he was in great nick.

However, against the run of play, the New Zealand workhorse Wagner castled Labuschagne. It was a just reward for Wagner's efforts, who bowled close to 90 minutes unchanged in the first session.

Meanwhile, Travis Head (56), at the other end, looked tentative while facing Wagner's short deliveries. The southpaw, though, didn't miss out on taking advantage of loose deliveries as he punched, glanced and drove his way to another Test fifty. Unfortunately, once again Head failed to convert a start into a Test century as he drove a full and wide delivery from Southee straight into the hands of the fielder stationed at short extra-cover. The trap was set for that kind of a stroke, and Head couldn't resist from attempting the drive.

New Zealand's camp would be hoping for their top order to negate the threat of the new ball under lights. The pink ball seems to zip around a bit more under lights, with a few factors helping it to swing for longer periods.

Brief scores: Australia 416 (Marnus Labuschagne 143, Travis Head 56; Neil Wagner 4-77, Tim Southee 4-93) vs New Zealand

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