Wagner impresses on batting day at WACA
Western Australia XI 345 (Whiteman 117, Bosisto 78, Wagner 5-62, Santner 4-62) v New Zealanders
New Zealand insist Trent Boult will be fit to play in the inaugural day-night Test in Adelaide despite being the only squad bowler not to try his hand with the pink ball in a practice fixture against a Western Australia team under the WACA ground lights in Perth.
Boult has looked short of rhythm during this tour even though he had his moments during the Perth Test, where he bowled better than he did in Brisbane. He entered the trip soon after his rehabilitation from back stress hot spots that appeared during the tour of England earlier this year, but bowling coach Dimitri Mascarenhas denied a recurrence.
"We'll assess him over the next couple of days and he's on track to be fit for the third Test," he said after play. "He's going okay as far as I know."
Neil Wagner made the most of Boult's absence, swinging the second new ball under lights opposite Tim Southee. He helped usher a rush of WA wickets, with 13 in all falling though the hosts were able to keep batting under the loose playing conditions set for the match.
The Sheffield Shield duo of William Bosisto and Sam Whiteman both prospered with the bat, with Whiteman, the wicketkeeper, going on to 117 before he was bowled between bat and pad by Doug Bracewell late in the evening. New Zealand rounded up 5 for 36 in the last 10 overs of the night after taking the second new ball on a pitch notably more equitable to bowlers and batsman than the Test match strip used last week.
Whiteman offered the familiar mixed critique of the pink ball after his century. "I think my previous best score against the pink ball was about 10, so it was actually good to get a few on the board," he said. "I think it's a little bit tougher under lights, but definitely bearable. When it's a little bit fuller it's tougher to see, but once you get set it is like batting with a red ball.
"The boys were saying it was quite out there to start under lights, but when you're set it's pretty good to bat. The ball deteriorates pretty quickly. Towards the end it was almost not really pink - and the square is in pretty good nick. Towards the end it got quite dark and hard to pick up."
From his more removed viewpoint, Mascarenhas saw few problems with the ball. "The boys think at moment the way it is reacted is pretty similar to the red ball," he said. "The only difference is it doesn't buff up as much as the red ball. The difference is in the middle session it won't swing as much as the red ball usually can. But in all other respects it's very similar. The newer the ball is, the more it is going to do and the lights help it look good with the pink ball."
New Zealand's bowlers took confidence from the final day of the Test, where they bowled with greater parsimony and unity than at any other stage of the tour to delay Steven Smith's declaration. "We all know we can bowl like that, just a matter of doing it more often than not," said Mascarenhas. "We haven't got it right at the Gabba or on day one here. But we started to get it right and showed what we can do. The boys have taken great confidence out of that and now we move forward to Adelaide and the chance to secure a tie."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig