Australia v New Zealand: Steve Smith half century puts Australia in control

Australia batsman Steve Smith
Smith brought up his 28th Test half-century off 103 balls
Second Test, Melbourne Cricket Ground (day one of five):
Australia 257-4: Smith 77 no, Labuschagne 63; de Grandhomme 2-48
New Zealand: Yet to bat

Steve Smith hit an unbeaten 77 as Australia ended day one on 257-4 to take control of the second Test against New Zealand in Melbourne.

In front of a crowd of 80,473 at the MCG, New Zealand's Kane Williamson won the toss and opted to bowl.

It looked to be a good decision with Joe Burns out first ball and David Warner dismissed just before lunch.

But Marnus Labuschagne, the world's leading Test run-scorer in 2019, and Smith hit back with key half-centuries.

Labuschagne took his tally for the year to 1,085 runs, at an average of 67.81, while Smith, who has played four innings fewer, has scored 950 runs at 86.36.

Smith, who has scored centuries in his past four Tests in Melbourne, ended the day with Travis Head alongside him on 25 not out.

"The way they bowled and placed their field, I had to be patient," he said afterwards. "It's not the kind of wicket you could go after them. I think we did pretty well.

"The plan will obviously be to score as many as we can [on Friday]," he added. "But after getting sent in, I think you'd take 257-4 at the end of the day. One more good partnership would be nice and sort of set the game up for us."

Australia lead the three-match series 1-0 after a 296-run win in the first Test in Perth.

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