New Zealand 202 and 5 for 116 (Santner 13*, Watling 7*, Hazlewood 3-32) lead Australia 224 (Nevill 66, Smith 53, Bracewell 3-18) by 94 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The pink ball and green pitch have combined to produce a vivid brand of cricket over the first two days at Adelaide Oval, where a three-day Test now appears a near certainty. At stumps on the second evening, it was Australia who had the upper hand but in a match full of rapid momentum swings, New Zealand were well and truly still in the contest. Their lead of 94 runs with five wickets in hand could yet develop into a target that will challenge Australia.
That the third innings was already half over was an indication of how quickly this Test had progressed. Runs were at a premium, with only three players having so far reached half-centuries, and none having made hundreds. On the first day 12 wickets had fallen and on the second, 13 more tumbled, but it was a not-out decision that may yet have the greatest impact on the result of the match, a reprieve for Nathan Lyon, who usually bats at No.11 for Australia.
The scene was this: Australia were 8 for 118 in reply to New Zealand's 202, and Lyon top-edged an attempted sweep off Mitchell Santner into his shoulder and up to slip. New Zealand's appeal was denied on field by umpire S Ravi, and Brendon McCullum asked for a review, confident that Australia would soon be 9 for 118. But despite evidence that would have convinced most courts of law, the third umpire Nigel Llong was unswayed.
After five minutes of replays, Llong upheld Ravi's decision. There was a clear Hot Spot on the top edge of Lyon's bat, and he had walked halfway to the dressing room. There also seemed to be a deviation in the ball's course. But nothing showed up on Snicko, which appeared to create enough doubt in Llong's mind. To add to the farce, he checked also if it could have been lbw off Lyon's shoulder, but seemed not to notice that the Eagle Eye replay was of the previous delivery.
It was a costly call for New Zealand. Lyon and Peter Nevill went on to compile the highest partnership of the match, adding a further 72 runs after the review. Undeterred by his near miss, Lyon continued to sweep with the enthusiasm of an Olympic curler, and the shot brought him plenty of runs, including the second six of his Test career. At the other end, Nevill played the perfect innings for the moment, his 66 the top score of the match so far.
Eventually Lyon was caught at gully off Trent Boult for 34, but Mitchell Starc hobbled to the crease in spite of the stress fracture in his foot, and thumped 20 runs off one Mark Craig over and 24 in total. He was not out when Nevill holed out to deep cover off Doug Bracewell, and Australia had somehow turned what seemed a certain hefty deficit into a 22-run first-innings lead.
It also meant that New Zealand would face the challenging task of batting under lights, when the pink ball seems to swing most. And even without Starc, Australia's pace trio of Josh Hazlewood, Peter Siddle and Mitchell Marsh asked some serious questions of the New Zealand top order. Martin Guptill had no answers, caught at gully for 17 when he drove at a fullish outswinger from Hazlewood, completing a disappointing series with the bat.
His opening partner Tom Latham again survived the early overs but could not push on. In every innings of this series, Latham has reached double figures but never has he scored more than 50. This time, he too drove at Hazlewood and edged behind to Nevill for 10. Most importantly for New Zealand's hopes, Kane Williamson also fell cheaply, a faint tickle behind off Mitchell Marsh ending his innings on 9.
Australia are adamant they need an allrounder in case a fast man breaks down, so in the absence of Starc there were great expectations on Marsh to step up. Getting rid of Williamson was the perfect start; dismissing McCullum was a bonus. On 20, McCullum prodded forward and was struck on the pad by Marsh; McCullum challenged the umpire's out decision but it was an ambitious review, and he had to depart.
One more wicket was to come, Ross Taylor trapped right in front by Hazlewood for 32, and nobody was more relieved than Steven Smith, who had put down Taylor at slip off Hazlewood before he had scored. The pink ball was easy enough for the 42,372 spectators to see under the floodlights but Smith seemed to have trouble watching it into his hands, also putting down BJ Watling later in the night on 2, also at slip off Hazlewood.
By stumps, Watling was on 7 and Santner had 13, and with the score at 5 for 116, they and the tail needed to stick around for as long as possible on day three to set Australia a challenging target. Quite what such a target would be was unclear, for the Australians had collapsed to 8 for 116 themselves earlier in the day. Although the first session brought only 62 runs, the fewest of any session in the series, the match was moving at rapid pace.
New Zealand seemed to have taken control of the game in that first session, collecting six wickets and doing almost nothing wrong. The fast bowlers swung the ball and kept the runs tight, the spinners extracted turn and wickets, and the fielding was as outstanding as anything seen so far in the series. Especially memorable was McCullum's diving stop at mid-off, then his roll and throw to have Shaun Marsh run out for 2.
Marsh had nobody to blame but himself for his call and hesitation, and it was the second wicket of the day after Tim Southee hooped the ball brilliantly to have Adam Voges caught at slip for 13. Mitchell Marsh replaced his brother and prodded an edge behind for 4 off Doug Bracewell, and it was just reward for Bracewell's nagging lines and the pressure that he built.
Bracewell bowled with such impressive economy that he could have been AAA-rated by Standard & Poor's, his 12.1 overs bringing him 3 for 18 at less than 1.5 an over. Smith was the only Australian batsman to show the necessary patience and he reached his half-century from 108 balls, but he could not help going after the spin of Mark Craig, who turned the ball enough to catch Smith's inside edge as he danced down the pitch and Watling moved quickly to take a sharp catch.
Smith's 53 had given Australia a base, but Craig soon added Siddle, caught in close for a duck, and Santner bowled Hazlewood for 4 to bring Australia to their knees. Unfortunately for New Zealand, when Lyon went to his knees for a sweep and was reprieved in the third umpire's room, the momentum shifted back Australia's way.