Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne struggles continue as 13 wickets fall on wild day

Pressure is piling up on two of Australia's most prolific batters after more ugly scenes in the first cricket Test against New Zealand.

Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith.

Australia are facing the possibility of having to make a brutal call on Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne after they both failed again in the second innings against New Zealand. Australia went to stumps at 2-13 on day two at the Basin Reserve, with Smith dismissed for a duck and Labuschagne for two.

That came after Smith laboured to 31 off 71 in the first innings, and Labuschagne made a painful one off 27 balls. Australia dismissed New Zealand for just 179 on Friday and held a 217-run lead at stumps, after Cameron Green made 174 not out and propelled Australia to 383.

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The Aussies were completely in control of the game, but concerns and pressure are growing on Smith and Labuschagne. The situation with Labuschagne is of particular concern, with the No.3 only making one century in his last 37 Test innings, and only passing 50 on six occasions during that time.

Marnus Labuschagne.
Marnus Labuschagne's rough run with the bat continued in the second innings. (Hagen Hopkins via Getty Images)

In his last six innings he's made 10, one not out, three, five, one and two, and his career average has dropped from 60.82 to under 50 in just 12 months. “Labuschagne is totally lost. He is lost in his own head,” Gerard Whateley said on SEN Radio. “All the things he spoke about coming into the Test match, he didn’t do any of them. He was scratching around his mark, you couldn’t see him scoring.

"There are flaws in his game that will torture him because he speaks about being the perfectionist, but he needs the shrink’s couch at the moment to find his way through it. Once he gets out in the middle he is just consumed by it. All his idiosyncrasies are swallowing up the stroke player that we have seen when he’s been at his best."

Cameron Green innings papers over Aussie Test cracks

Smith has failed to fire since moving to the top of the order to replace the retired David Warner, and lasted just three balls on Friday. On the flip side, Cameron Green appears to have cemented his spot at No.4, which Smith vacated in order to move up.

Green made a masterful 174 not out on Friday to propel Australia to 383 all out - way more than the tourists looked like making. When New Zealand finally got to the crease, it looked as if Green's knock had knocked the stuffing out of them.

Only Glenn Phillips' run-a-ball 71 and Matt Henry's even-quicker 42 gave joy to the local crowd, with New Zealand's top order capitulating and losing three wickets in six balls to be 3-12. Nathan Lyon bowled beautifully with 4-43, while Josh Hazlewood nabbed two wickets to go along with his 22 runs with the bat. Hazlewood's knock was the highest by a No.11 in New Zealand, while his 10th wicket partnership of 116 with Green was Australia's biggest in New Zealand.

In a perfect summation of the Kiwis' day, captain Tim Southee dropped nightwatchman Lyon at second slip off the last ball. New Zealand have won just one of their past 30 Tests against Australia and are staring down the barrel once again.

"They're an incredible team," Phillips said. "I'm pretty sure most teams in the world struggle against them. It's not just us."

with AAP

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