MELBOURNE — Travis Head signaled his coming of age as a test batsman by scoring a crucial century in Australia’s first innings of 467 before New Zealand lost two wickets late on the second day of the second test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Head made 114 and shared a vital 150-run partnership with skipper Tim Paine to tilt the game firmly in Australia's favor and then its quick bowlers ousted opener Tom Blundell (15) and World No.3-ranked batsman Kane Williamson for nine to leave the tourists in a shaky position at 44-2 off 18 overs at stumps on Friday.
After scoring seven previous half-centuries, Head was able to shrug off the tag of being wasteful by converting a good start into a century, but not before Neil Wagner (4-83 off 38 overs) had again bounced out Steve Smith (85) before lunch and trapped Paine lbw for 79 just after tea. It was Paine's highest score in his 18 tests as captain.
Mitchell Starc fell for one in the following over, with a nervous Head on 99, still seeking the second test century of his 16-match career.
The stylish left-hander settled his nerves as he calmly reached the milestone two balls later with a boundary to backward point. Head took off his helmet and raised both arms in triumph to the large appreciative crowd, likely putting to an end any speculation over his place in the side.