Smith hands Australia a bright start on the 2nd test

Steve Smith
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Australian batsman Steve Smith put his side in the driving seat on the opening day of the second Test against New Zealand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground with an unbeaten 77.

It was the first time that the Black Caps had returned to the MCG in 32 years for a Boxing Day Test. At stumps, the Aussies were on 257 for four.

After winning the toss and inviting Australia to bat first New Zealand had a good start as Trent Boult removed Joe Burns for a duck with the fourth delivery of the match.

David Warner who grew into his innings and just short of a fifty was sent packing by Niel Wagner whose delivery was caught by Tim Southee at second slip. The contest was evenly poised at lunch and continued to remain in the balance at tea.

For a large part of the afternoon session, it looked as though Smith and Marnus Labuschagne were starting to take control of the match as they fought hard against some demanding bowling from the Black Caps.

The Kiwis had a chance to run out Labuschagne on 27 when there was a mix-up with Smith but skipper Kane Williamson could not hit the stumps. Labuschagne eventually brought up his half-century and it appeared as though he had settled in for a fourth hundred in four Tests but was cut off at 63 by Collin de Grandhomme.

But true to their form the Kiwis continued to put up a strong fight and were rewarded with the wicket of Mathew Wade in the final session for 38.

That wicket came six overs before the second new ball which gave New Zealand a vital opportunity to try and clawback.

Travis Head, who retained his place when Australia opted against playing five bowlers, and Smith remained safe.

Smith was unbeaten on 77 just shy of another century at the MCG which has been a good hunting ground for the Australian.