Marnus Labuschagne continues to enjoy a golden summer as he blasted his third consecutive century to put Australia on top against New Zealand on day one of the Pink Ball Test at the new Perth stadium on Thursday. Australia chose to bat and they were given a good start by Joe Burns and David Warner as they strung a 40-run stand for the opening wicket. However, Colin de Grandhomme trapped Burns LBW for 9 and replays suggested that had the batsman reviewed the decision he would have escaped. Labuschagne stepped in negotiated a tricky period before the lunch break. The right-hander got going with a beautifully driven straight drive to the long off fence of Neil Wagner.
The right-hander continued to drive brilliantly and he found the fence by drilling Mitchell Santner to the deep extra cover fence. Despite losing Warner for 43 before lunch, Labuschagne shared a solid partnership with Steve Smith. After the lunch break, Labuschagne got going with a couple of boundaries as New Zealand bowled with discipline. Smith and Labuschagne dug in and made attriotional progress. Labuschagne continued to pepper the off side and he beared his fifty with a four off Tim Southee and notched up his fifty by steering a short ball over the slips for a boundary.
Smith was gifted a life and New Zealand's woes increased when Lockie Ferguson on debut suffered a calf strain and was forced off the field. After a tough second session, Labuschagne tickled a full ball from de Grandhomme to the fine leg fence as the 100-run stand came up. He entered the nineties with a couple of fours off Neil Wagner and he notched up his century in grand style by launching Santner over long on for a big six.
Labuschagne became the joint fourth fastest Australian player to reach 1000 Test runs. Sir Don Bradman leads the list and he is followed by Neil Harvey, Sid Barnes and he is level with the likes of Herbie Collins, Doug Walters and Adam Voges. Ever since he was brought on as a concussion substitute for Smith in the 2019 Lord's Ashes Test, he has been in rich form. In the second innings of the Lord's Test, Labuschagne hit 59 and he followed it up with 74 and 80 in the Leeds Test. He smashed 67 in the Manchester Test and contributed with 48 in the Oval Test as Australia seemed to have found a number three. In the two Tests against Pakistan, Labuschagne hit 185 in Brisbane and 162 in the Pink Ball Test.