Kiwis powerless as Marnus delivers another century
MARNUS Labuschagne celebrated the anniversary of his shock selection at No.3 with another century as Australia piled on 3-283 on the opening day of the third Test against New Zealand.
One year after selectors were criticised for picking him at No.3 for the SCG Test against India, Labuschagne rewarded them at the same venue with a fourth century of the summer.
The right-hander went to stumps unbeaten on 130, with Australia ramming home their advantage after already wrapping up the series last week at the MCG.
His Test batting average stands at 62.61, the third highest in Test history.
Steve Smith made 63, batting patiently before his pursuit of his first hundred for the summer was ended when he edged Colin de Grandhomme to first slip.
The Aussie pair - dubbed as the new bromance of the national side - combined for a 156-run, third-wicket partnership, their highest while batting together.
Matthew Wade then hit a quick-fire 22 not out from 30 balls before stumps in front of a crowd of 36,420.
NZ in comparison endured arguably their most difficult day on a tour that has quickly become a nightmare.
Tom Latham was forced to take on the captaincy with Kane Williamson ruled out sick, while Glenn Phillips made his debut only after flying in from Auckland on Thursday night.
Spinner Mitchell Santner and batsman Henry Nicholls were also too ill to play as a virus swept through the group, while Tim Southee was overlooked to manage his workload.
With Trent Boult also nursing a broken hand, it left Neil Wagner and de Grandhomme as the Black Caps' only two bowlers surviving from the MCG,
Wagner (1-48) bowled well, taking David Warner's wicket for 45 and helping to keep Smith from scoring for his first 45 balls.
De Grandhomme (2-63) also got the wicket of Joe Burns, who edged to slip when on 18.
Ultimately the Black Caps bowlers provided nowhere near enough support to de Grandhomme and Wagner. Matt Henry finished the day with 0-68 on his return to the team.
Labuschagne picked off their replacement spinners, Will Somerville and Todd Astle, with ease, lifting the former into the member's stand for six just before tea.
The 25-year-old also played nicely off his pads, with 63 per cent of his runs coming through the legside.
He brought up his hundred when he glanced de Grandhomme for four in the evening session.
Labuschagne has only once failed to reach 50 in his seven innings this summer, when run out for 19 in the second innings in Melbourne.
Dropped before the start of the Ashes before being recalled as a concussion substitute for Smith at Lord's, Labuschagne has amassed 1105 Test runs at an average of 85 since that career-changing moment.