Outrageous catch to dimiss Marnus Labuschagne helps Kiwis take momentum against Aussies in second Test

New Zealand have roared back into the second Test courtesy of a century stand from Tom Latham and Kane Williamson, as well as a stunning piece of fielding.

The top-order Black Caps fought off the Australian attack late on day two, pushing New Zealand to a 40-run lead at the close of play on Saturday.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Labuschagne denied century by stunning catch.

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Latham pushed on to an unbeaten 65, and will resume in Christchurch on Sunday alongside Rachin Ravindra (11).

New Zealand, serial losers at Australia’s hands this summer, finally found fight in the two-Test series, numbing the tourists’ attack and slowing the momentum that had threatened to end the match early.

Latham and Williamson (51) played with patience, putting on 105 in the hosts’ best partnership of the series so far.

For Williamson in particular — playing his 100th Test and having recently underachieved against Australia — the knock felt especially significant.

Ravindra played with a game awareness lacking in previous innings, prioritising his wicket and making it through to stumps.

Australia might have had a breakthrough a few overs before the close, with Latham edging Josh Hazlewood only for wicketkeeper Alex Carey to drop a chance while diving to his right.

Marnus Labuschagne was dismissed by a stunning catch. Credit: X / AAP

If the day ended with New Zealand firmly back in the contest, in-form Matt Henry was the one who earned the Black Caps a chance.

The 32-year-old played a lone hand among the Kiwi bowlers, taking 7-67 as Australia made 256 to build a 94-run first-innings lead.

Henry’s extraordinary figures were the best by any New Zealand bowler since Sir Richard Hadlee took 9-52 in the 1985/86 tour: the only time the Kiwis have won an away trans-Tasman series.

Beginning the day at 3-39, Henry added nightwatchman Nathan Lyon (20) and Mitch Marsh (duck) to his scalps before lunch.

After the break, he had Mitchell Starc (28) caught behind and Pat Cummins (23) lbw for just the second seven-wicket effort of his career, both on his home pitch in Christchurch.

With those figures, Henry — who bats at nine — finished Australia’s innings as New Zealand’s leading run-scorer and chief wicket-taker from the two-Test series.

Aside from the tail, the only Australian batter to out-perform their average was Marnus Labuschagne, who sorely needed the runs.

Coming into the Test on the back of six knocks of 10 or below, Labuschagne silenced the doubters with an anchoring innings of 90.

He looked set for a fighting ton until Glenn Phillips took a screamer at gully to remove Australia’s No.3 off Tim Southee’s bowling.

Henry’s ferocity with the ball was in contrast to tame offerings from captain Southee (1-68), Scott Kuggeleijn (0-30) and Ben Sears (1-71).

When Australia regained the ball, they were also made to toil, as the Black Caps batters placed a value on their wicket for the first time in the series.

Only Will Young (one) was cheaply dismissed, lowering his series average to 9.75.

Australia lead the two-Test series 1-0 after a 172-run victory at Wellington’s Basin Reserve last week, and have already retained the Trans-Tasman Trophy.


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