New Zealand were reeling at 27-4 and heading for another heavy defeat with Australian bowlers Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon among the wickets in the third Test on Monday.
Australia declared their second innings at 217 for two with David Warner scoring an unbeaten century, leaving the Blackcaps with a revised 416-run target in the fourth innings on a wearing Sydney Cricket Ground pitch.
The Black Caps’ task became even more monumental with Starc removing both openers, Tom Latham and Tom Blundell, in the first five overs.
New Zealand went to tea at 27 for four with Ross Taylor on 12 and BJ Watling yet to score.
Blundell fell to a stunning catch by a diving Lyon at point for two and stand-in skipper Latham lost a review for leg before wicket on umpire’s call for one in a shattering blow to New Zealand’s hopes.
Jeet Raval was out in a review to the faintest of edges on “Snicko” in Lyon’s first over for 12 with the Kiwi innings unravelling under the onslaught from the Australian attack.
First-innings topscorer Glenn Phillips went for a duck after tecnology detected a faint outside edge to wicketkeeper Tim Paine off Lyon leaving the Kiwis a shaky 22 for four.
Earlier, Warner completed his 24th Test century with a clip off his pads for three runs through midwicket and remained unbeaten when skipper Paine declared upon the dismissal of Marnus Labuschagne.
Labuschagne, who was dropped on four in a regulation caught and bowled chance by leg-spinner Todd Astle, was caught at long on off Matt Henry for 59 — his seventh score over 50 in eight innings this golden domestic summer.
Labuschagne finished the home five-Test season against Pakistan and New Zealand with a stunning aggregate of 896 runs, made up of his 215 in the first innings, three other centuries and three half-centuries in eight innings.
There was drama late in the innings with the Australians chasing quick runs ahead of the declaration when Warner was given an official warning by umpire Aleem Dar for running down the middle of the pitch in scampering a single.
It resulted in five penalty runs being added to New Zealand’s first innings total meaning their target was revised down from 421 to 416.
Australia’s runs came easily against the weakened Kiwi bowling attack and Warner relished the ball coming on to the bat to pass 50 for the first time since his unbeaten 335 against Pakistan in Adelaide last month.
Joe Burns again failed to go on after a start and lost a leg before wicket review on 40 after not picking leg-spinner Todd Astle’s wrong’un.
Australia have been unbeatable this season, winning all four Tests at home — two each against Pakistan and New Zealand — after retaining the Ashes by drawing the series 2-2 in England.
The Test is being played against the backdrop of one of Australia’s most devastating bushfire seasons with at least 24 people losing their lives in blazes raging across the country, including on the outskirts of Sydney.