Australia 9 for 559 dec and 2 for 258 (Smith 131*, Voges 101*) lead New Zealand 624 (Taylor 290, Williamson 166, Starc 4-119, Lyon 3-107) by 193 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The fourth day at the WACA was a day of contrasts. Ross Taylor fell short of a one-year-old record but broke a 111-year-old one. The captains shared a laugh on the pitch before play but no Australian shook Taylor's hand after his 290. And though a draw remained the most likely result throughout, New Zealand spent the first half of it with the best chance of winning, but by stumps Australia were in the better position.
The one thing that stayed constant was the amount of runs in the pitch. Two batsmen scored centuries in the first innings, two did in the second and by stumps, two more had joined them in the third. Steven Smith and Adam Voges, two batsmen who were hardly required for anything but late hitting at the Gabba, both reached triple-figures late on the third day as Australia built their lead back up to 193 runs, setting up a fascinating day five.
Smith was the man who would likely decide the fate of the match, for unless New Zealand's bowlers found a way to skittle Australia quickly, the declaration was in his hands. Australia hold the Trans-Tasman Trophy and a draw would be enough to retain it, and last summer against India, Smith at times showed himself to be more conservative than his predecessor Michael Clarke in playing for draws. And he will know that New Zealand can score very quickly.
They had done so throughout their first innings at the WACA, rattling along at more than four an over. Taylor finished with 290 at a strike-rate of 77.54; only Virender Sehwag, David Warner and Matthew Hayden have Test scores of 250-plus at a quicker tempo. And Taylor did it with nothing but classic batting, picking gaps and striking the ball along the ground. He scored 43 fours but not a single six.
With a single pushed down the ground off Nathan Lyon, Taylor moved to 288 and past a record that had stood since 1903. The previous highest score by a visiting Test batsman in Australia was Tip Foster's 287, compiled at the SCG at a time when Alfred Deakin was Australia's prime minister, the WACA had hosted just one first-class match, and only three nations played Test cricket.
It was a remarkable record for Taylor to break, yet he fell 12 runs short of New Zealand's all-time highest Test score, the 302 that Brendon McCullum struck against India in Wellington only last year. When he holed out to deep midwicket, caught by the substitute Jon Wells off Lyon's bowling, Taylor had to settle for being third on New Zealand's list, behind McCullum and the 299 scored by Taylor's mentor Martin Crowe against Sri Lanka in Wellington.
New Zealand had added 114 to their overnight total for the loss of their final four wickets: Mark Craig was caught at midwicket off Lyon for 15, Matt Henry had his stumps rattled by Mitchell Starc's inswinger on 6, Tim Southee was caught and bowled by Starc for 23 after clubbing Mitchell Johnson for a monstrous six over midwicket, and Taylor was the final man to depart. When he walked off with New Zealand having scored 624, a lack of handshakes from the Australians was notable.
New Zealand had done enough to secure a 65-run lead on the first innings, and when Southee's outswinger had Joe Burns caught at slip for a duck and then David Warner drove a catch on the up to cover off Boult for 24, they were dreaming of a stunning victory. But then came the partnership between Smith and Voges, which by stumps had reached 212 runs. That it was only the third biggest stand of the match told a story.
Back in the No.3 position due to Usman Khawaja's hamstring injury, Smith looked in sublime touch from the beginning of his innings. He was especially strong through the off side, cover driving, off driving and using the pace of the ball to deflect to third man. Of his 18 boundaries, 15 came through the off side. He was dropped down leg side by BJ Watling on 96, and went on to raise his hundred from his 140th delivery with a cover-driven four off Boult.
It was the 11th Test hundred Smith had scored in his career and, remarkably, the first he had ever made in the second innings of a Test. He had barely been needed in Brisbane and in the first innings at the WACA, but this time there was clearly a job to do. Smith had strong support from Voges, who was playing his first Test in front of his home crowd in Perth and managed to avoid a nervous night in the nineties when he reached his century in the penultimate over.
Voges brought up his second Test hundred from his 180th ball with a pull for four through midwicket off Kane Williamson's part-time offspin, and it turned out to be the last ball Voges faced in the day's play. The benefit of Voges' WACA experience was obvious as he used the pace of the wicket to help deliveries on their way, scoring two-thirds of his runs behind the wicket. He also reverse-swept effectively when given the chance.
There were concerns for Australia late in the day when Smith was struck on the helmet by a bouncer from Boult and appeared momentarily shaken, and later received a nasty blow to the elbow off Matt Henry. But Smith batted on after both incidents and what he decides regarding Australia's declaration will go a long way to determining the result of this Test.