Lunch Australia 151 for 2 (Burns 78*, Smith 37*) trail New Zealand 370 by 129 runs
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Joe Burns was patient in scoring his first overseas fifty © Getty Images
Joe Burns and Steven Smith weathered sustained pressure from New Zealand’s bowlers to lay a platform for Australia following the early loss of Usman Khawaja on the second morning of the second Test, at Hagley Oval.
New Zealand entered the day knowing they needed to take advantage of a newish ball and any remaining moisture in the pitch with quick wickets, but Burns and Smith combined in a steely stand that absorbed much of what Brendon McCullum’s men hurled at them.
For Burns it was a first overseas half-century and a key marker of his progress as a member of the Australian top order. Smith built another innings redolent of a leader, following up from his scene-setting 71 in Wellington.
In the day’s early overs, the finest hint of movement was evident, and after getting underway with a neat square cut, Khawaja was defeated by a Trent Boult delivery that straightened down the line, caught the edge and was well held by McCullum in the slips cordon.
That wicket put a spring in New Zealand steps, and both Burns and Smith had to endure plenty of testing deliveries in the next hour. Burns came within a centimetre or so of gloving one when he tried to leave a prancing delivery from Matt Henry.
New Zealand went up in a unanimous and convincing appeal, the umpire’s finger was raised, and Burns immediately reviewed, walking down the wicket with a shake of the head. Replays showed the ball had grazed his shirt rather than glove, and the third umpire Richard Illingworth relayed an overturned verdict.
That moment seemed to ease some of the tension, and from there Burns and Smith freed up with a handful of attractive strokes. There were still uncomfortable moments, epitomised by Smith receiving a painful blow to the stomach when trying to pull Boult, but by lunch Australia had done much of the hard work.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo