New Zealand 166 and 2 for 31 (Latham 10*, Taylor 5*) need another 437 runs to beat Australia 416 and 9 for 217 dec (Burns 53, Labuschagne 50, Southee 5-69, Wagner 3-59)
Nathan Lyon spun out New Zealand’s captain Kane Williamson with his first ball as Australia took a leap towards victory in the day-night Perth Test with five sessions still remaining.
New Zealand had been left with 468 to win after Australia’s captain Tim Paine declared with one wicket remaining at the end of an innings where the visitors had successfully limited the lead while also expanding the amount of time in which the hosts may need to bowl with only two fit pacemen.
However a quick breakthrough by Mitchell Starc, who bounced out a struggling Jeet Raval, and then Lyon’s bat-pad dismissal of Williamson had the Australians eyeing a yawning defeat of the tourists on another day of temperatures higher than 35C.
Tim Southee and Neil Wagner shared eight wickets between them, as New Zealand claimed 8 for 86 after the Australians had advanced to 1 for 131 late on the third day. Their concerted, short-pitched angle of attack resulted not only in plenty of wickets but also a succession of painful blows for the batsmen, most notably Matthew Wade.
Wade, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon added 50 runs on the fourth afternoon, leaving New Zealand with five and a half sessions to survive if they wish to get out of Perth with a draw – a feat that, if achieved, would severely fatigue Australia’s bowlers with Josh Hazlewood already out of the game due to a hamstring strain.
If New Zealand did not make quite as disastrous a start as they had done in the first innings, when they had lost two wickets in the first two overs, Raval and Tom Latham could not stay together for long. Taking advantage of an increasingly cracked pitch, Starc taunted Raval with the words “this is the last chance of your career” before promptly hitting the shoulder of the opener’s bat to gift Lyon the simplest of catches the very next ball. With scores of 3, 33, 4, 0, 19, 5, 0, 1 and 1 since his first Test century against Bangladesh, Raval has some thinking to do.
Williamson was granted some early latitude by Starc and Cummins, who allowed him to skate into the teens with a couple of full balls on leg stump and then a wide half volley, but Lyon was in no mood to be quite so charitable. His first ball leapt out of the surface with turn and bounce, clipping the edge onto thigh pad and straight to short leg to leave New Zealand teetering at the interval.