Australia storming despite Franklin's six
James Franklin persevered through a third Adam Gilchrist explosion to claim a career-best six wickets, but Australia were thundering through the final Test. Gilchrist catapulted his side to a 91-run lead before Glenn McGrath, who finished on 497 Test wickets, stomped in to reduce New Zealand to 11 for 2 when bad light finally ended a disjointed day.
New Zealand's bowlers deserve to be terrified of Gilchrist after this series. He pounded 121 at Christchurch, 162 at Wellington and another crushing innings today as he slashed Australia to 383. Australia were in trouble at 315 for 8, an advantage of 23 on a tricky wicket, after the second of six interruptions, but Gilchrist breezed out to swing an unbeaten 60 from 62 balls with 10 fours and a six over midwicket off Paul Wiseman.
Opening with a couple of streaky edges for fours, Gilchrist launched into Franklin with three boundaries in an over of clean hitting and then pulled Chris Martin to take the lead past 50. The partnership with Michael Kasprowicz, a record for the ninth wicket for Australia against New Zealand, was worth 74 and the runs were crucial as they maintained pressure on opponents who can draw the series with a victory.
Franklin contained further damage by leaving Gilchrist, who came in at No. 8 after Jason Gillespie was used as a nightwatchman, without partners and finished with 6 for 119 from 29.1 overs. Exploiting the seaming and swinging conditions, Franklin swept the final four wickets in with his two yesterday as he highlighted Stephen Fleming's mistake to delay taking the second new ball for 14 overs. The performance was an athletic one and he satisfyingly returned from a couple of poor patches.
New Zealand's bid to set a reasonable target suffered an immediate setback when McGrath, who was angry after an unlucky duck, trapped Craig Cumming lbw. His first delivery nipped back into Cumming's box and the next followed a similar angle into the top pad-flap. Hamish Marshall, who received the same short-ball treatment in McGrath's next over, joined his twin brother and got a single before James Marshall ducked into a bouncer that crashed into his helmet.
The day was full of disruptions and restricted to 57.5 overs as rain, heavy showers and bad light descended on the ground. Sunny patches usually followed in a strange and frustrating experience. Play was delayed for 20 minutes after lunch, but New Zealand were the ones refreshed by the early shower and they captured 3 for 6 before Eden Park's second splashing. Gillespie was extracted after 145 balls, the most faced by an Australian in the innings, when he sparred at Martin and Simon Katich, his partner in a 71-run stand that pushed Australia ahead, followed in the next over.
Katich, who brought up his 1000th run with an inside edge to fine-leg, had wrestled for 35 when his shot selection let him down as he skewed a pull off Franklin to Wiseman at mid-on. After seeking a lead of at least 100, Australia were in trouble with an 11-run buffer when Shane Warne's nick gave Franklin his fourth.
Australia began on 219 for 4 with Ricky Ponting requesting a big total to avoid a large fourth-innings target. Gillespie fulfilled his nightwatchman's job by making it to day three, but he wasn't ready to clock off until after lunch. Three cover-drives displayed the shots he can play when he follows through on his mastered defensive prod.
The morning started badly for Australia with Michael Clarke's horrible run out. Pushing to cover, Gillespie called wait twice as he stepped down the pitch, but Clarke, struggling through a rough patch, kept moving as if he wasn't convinced by the decision. James Marshall, wearing a red ribbon around his wrist to distinguish him from his brother, swooped and the direct hit sent Clarke off before the third umpire had seen his first replay. New Zealand threatened like the clouds, but Australia were storming thanks to Gilchrist and McGrath.
Clarke run out 22 (226 for 5)
Looking for a single while Gillespie called wait, he turned too late and was beaten by James Marshall's throw.
Gillespie c McCullum b Martin 35 (297 for 6)
Offered an angled bat to a rising ball outside off.
Katich c Wiseman b Franklin 35 (297 for 7)
Awful mistimed pull that lobbed to mid-on.
Warne c Fleming b Franklin 1 (303 for 8)
Defensive push to lifting delivery caught the edge on the way to first slip.
Kasprowicz b Franklin 23 (377 for 9)
Shuffled across his stumps to glance, but the ball brushed leg stump to give Franklin his fifth wicket.
McGrath c McCullum b Franklin 0 (383)
Was grumpy when given out caught behind when the ball flicked his back pad.
Cumming lbw McGrath 0 (0 for 1)
Second-ball off-cutter rapped back pad to leave Jeremy Lloyds in no doubt.
J Marshall c Langer b McGrath 3 (9 for 2)
The lights were on when he was pushed back and nibbled straight to third slip's stomach.