Warner, Burns set records
It took one Test for David Warner and Joe Burns to be confirmed as Australia’s opening combination, as the pair set a record with two century partnerships in the first Test against New Zealand to change the complexion of the series.
Burns (129) plundered two sixes in three deliveries to reach his maiden Test hundred, moments before rain interrupted play Saturday evening, and Warner (116) completed a personal double after the resumption. The pair became the first Australians to combine for 100-plus stands for the first wicket in the same Test.
Their 237-run partnership in the second innings followed a 161 stand on day one, which set Australia on course for its first innings of 556-4 declared.
Warner, who scored 163 in the first innings, joined former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting and India captain Sunil Gavaskar as the only batsmen to post hundreds in each innings of a Test three times.
At stumps on day three, Australia was 264-4 in its second innings, an overall lead of 503 runs.
“The way David and Joe play, you’re going to drive the game in fast forward a little bit,” coach Darren Lehmann said in a TV interview. “It was really pleasing.”
Burns, who batted at No.6 in his first two Tests but was promoted to open following the retirement of Chris Rogers, achieved the rare feat of outscoring vice-captain Warner for most of their partnership, getting off the mark with a boundary and then calmly clouting spinner Mark Craig for straight sixes to move from 88 to 100.
He maintained the tempo after the rain interruption and finished his 123-ball innings with 14 fours and four sixes.
Not to be outdone, Warner went on the attack but, after reaching his 14th Test century, tried an ill-timed reverse sweep to spinner Mark Craig and was caught in the deep to end the opening stand.
It was the first of three quick wickets for Craig, who also had Burns caught in the deep and dismissed Mitch Marsh (2) to return 3-77.
Kane Williamson caught Steve Smith (1) low to the ground to give Trent Boult his first wicket of the innings, and only second of the match in which the beleaguered New Zealand attack is missing injured swing bowler Tim Southee.
With a handful of senior players retiring after the last Ashes series, Australia was considered vulnerable — particularly at the top of the order — ahead of the series-opening match at the Gabba, where it hadn’t lost since 1988.
But ever since Smith won the toss and elected to bat, the Australians have been on top. Williamson batted defiantly for 140, scoring his first test century against Australia and 11th overall, but was the last man out as New Zealand was dismissed for 317 half an hour after lunch on day three. The Black Caps had added 160 to its overnight total of 157-5.
Williamson went to the crease at the fall of New Zealand’s first wicket at 56 and stood firm while the tourists lost 4-16 in a five-over collapse late on the second day. He stroked 24 boundaries from 178 balls before he finally ran out of partners and patience and was caught behind off Mitchell Starc, who picked up the last two wickets and returned 4-57.
The 25-year-old Williamson now has scored Test centuries against eight countries.
Mitchell Johnson had figures of 3-105, having B.J. Watling (32) caught behind with his first ball of the morning to break a rearguard 67-run partnership and begin New Zealand’s weekend woes.