New Zealand is fighting to stay in the second Test of the three-match series against Australia as it began its chase of a mammoth 559-9 declared on the second day at the WACA in Perth on Saturday.
New Zealand was 140-2 at stumps trailing the hosts by 419 runs, and still 220 runs short of making Australia bat again and avoid the follow-on. Kane Williamson was unbeaten on 70 and Ross Taylor on 26 after coming together at 87 for two.
A career-best 253 by Dave Warner has all but shut New Zealand out of the Test and gave Australia a stranglehold to force a win and take the series 2-0. Australia won the first Test in Brisbane by 208 runs.
The New Zealand reply got off to an inauspicious start when opener Martin Guptill was trapped leg before wicket by left-arm swing bowler Mitchell Starc with just six runs on the board. Then, opener Tom Latham (36) and Williamson battled Australia’s pace attack over two hours in an 81-run second-wicket stand before offspinner Nathan Lyon ended the partnership when Latham edged a low catch to skipper Steve Smith at slip.
Williamson continued from where he left off in his 140 and 59 in the first Test in Brisbane with a plucky half century, bringing it up with his seventh four, an exquisite cover drive off left-arm swing bowler Mitchell Johnson. Williamson has so far batted for 187 minutes, hitting 10 fours in all off 121 balls.
The tourists could have been in trouble had short leg fielder Joe Burns taken two sharp chances offered by Williamson. One of the chances hit Burns on the peak of the helmet and required attention from the team’s medical staff.
Earlier, Usman Khawaja, who scored 121 in his 302-run second-wicket stand with Warner on the first day, left the field with a strained hamstring while chasing a ball on the outfield. The team confirmed Khawaja will have scans on the troubled leg on Sunday, and given his history of hamstring issues, it is unlikely he will be fit for the third Test, the first with a pink ball and under lights, starting in Adelaide on November 27.
Warner and skipper Steve Smith fell in quick succession before lunch. Warner edged a delivery from left-arm fast bowler Trent Boult to second slip Craig, ending an innings that lasted 11 minutes short of seven hours, facing 286 balls, hitting 24 fours and two sixes.
Warner took his series tally to 532 runs including centuries - 163 and 116 - in Brisbane at an average of 177. With 1,153 runs in 10 Test matches in 2015, Warner joined Smith (1,055 runs) as the only two Australian batsmen to score over 1,000 runs this calendar year.
Smith (27) took a wild swipe at a Matt Henry ball and edged a catch to wicketkeeper B.J. Watling.
Australia took lunch at 486-4, and soon after local boys Adam Voges (41) and Mitchell Marsh (34) provided some entertainment in a 50-run stand for the fifth wicket before Australia lost four wickets for 20 runs.
Swing bowlers Trent Boult, Henry and Doug Bracewell chipped away with two wickets apiece.
New Zealand offspinner Mark Craig took wickets in successive deliveries, having Starc caught on the long-on boundary, and then wicketkeeper BJ Watling stumped Mitchell Johnson. New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum surrounded the Australian No. 10 Nathan Lyon with a ring of close-in fielders, but Lyon swept the potential hat-trick ball to the fine-leg boundary.
The day began with the two teams lining up in the players’ viewing area to observe a minute silence for the victims of the terror attacks in Paris.