Philippe launches Australia A fightback against Kiwis

Josh Philippe took full advantage of his call-up to the Australia A squad by posting a spirited century against New Zealand A, just as the tourists threatened to seize the initiative in their four-day match in Mackay.

The wicketkeeper-batter came to the crease with the hosts in all sorts of trouble on day two of the day-night contest at 4-65, in reply to the Kiwis' 277 all out, but then blasted his way to guide the hosts to 275. 

Philippe struck 105 off 114 balls in an innings that included 17 boundaries, to leave the clash delicately poised with the visitors 0-20 in the second knock. 

The Western Australian's performance would have made the national team selectors take notice even though they would have been more interested in the displays of WA's Cameron Bancroft and Tasmanian Tim Ward.

With David Warner calling time on his Test career in the summer, the race is on for a replacement to partner the in-form Usman Khawaja, who at 36 himself is closer to the end rather than beginning of his career.

But both Bancroft and Ward, who batted at first drop, failed to push their cases on Tuesday.

Bancroft, last season's leading Sheffield Shield runscorer with 945 runs at an average of 59, was the first to fall when he was bowled by Jacob Duffy for seven.

Ward was knocked over when he was on 13, caught by Tom Bruce off spinner Adithya Ashok, leaving Australia precariously placed at 3-50.  

It was only the heroics of Philippe, who was ably supported by Nathan McSweeney (56) and Ben Dwarshuis (50), that prevented the New Zealand A attack from gaining the upper hand. 

The match is the second four-day game between the sides in Queensland, with three 50-over clashes to follow.

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