The Trans-Tasman series continued its practice of record-setting as Australia rammed home the advantage on the third day of the third test in Hamilton.
Adam Gilchrist finished with 10 catches, breaking the Australian record for a wicket-keeper's dismissals in a test, and Justin Langer's 50 off 42 balls broke by one ball the previous Australian test speed record.
Around the individual Australian highlights, New Zealand were left rueing an inability to develop substantial partnerships, the best being the 55 for the eighth wicket between Chris Cairns and Paul Wiseman. The result was a target for Australia of 210, which Langer's contribution threatened to see written off in one session.
After a 20-minute delay in the morning, New Zealand resumed at 58 for 3. Showers had arrived in Hamilton earlier than forecast and Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee took up the attack under heavy overcast skies with further interruptions expected.
The interruption to Spearman's innings came even earlier. In Lee's second over of the morning after both batsmen had produced confident drives in the V, the opener played defensively down one line, the ball went down another, taking the edge in the process, and Adam Gilchrist did the rest.
Spearman went for 35 at 71, making way for Craig McMillan, the major contributor to the first innings.
Astle brought his early-innings waft out of the closet, missing with one, picking up a four over gully with another. But he also unleashed a punishing drive to the mid-on boundary off McGrath.
It was Shane Warne who broke what was developing into a productive partnership. Astle failed to take sufficient account of the turn and Gilchrist had his second catch of the morning. Astle had contributed 26, the wicket falling at 111.
Chris Cairns replaced one Canterbury team-mate to join another. He survived a hopeful appeal for a catch off Warne from the pad to Mark Waugh at first slip. But, on the last ball before lunch, Warne had more success, the ball going from bat to pad to Waugh for McMillan to depart for 30, with the score at 130 and Cairns on 10.
Adam Parore came out after lunch with Cairns, New Zealand holding a slender advantage of 110 with four wickets in hand. The pair brought up the NZ 150 in the 31st over of the day, taking 252 minutes.
Cairns survived a confident Warne appeal for a first-slip catch, the ruling presumably that the ball had not carried to a tumbling Mark Waugh. However, a change at the grandstand end brought a quick halt to yet another developing partnership. With the third ball of his new spell, McGrath extracted a slash from Parore and Gilchrist did the rest, in the process taking his ninth catch of the test.
Parore had contributed 16, his departure bringing Paul Wiseman to the wicket with New Zealand holding an advantage of 145 and just three wickets to fall. Wiseman was given an early going over by McGrath while at the other end Steve Waugh brought himself on to replace Warne. Wiseman was getting the short-pitched treatment from both ends as Waugh bounced him, albeit at a more leisurely pace.
Wiseman, who was ending up with much of the strike, gained sympathetic applause for a couple of singles; the applause was considerably more generous when he pulled Waugh for four behind square. Miller returned for McGrath at the grandstand end after the drinks break and was greeted by Cairns in two minds - the silky one with a fine touch past backward point for four and the belligerent one with a lofted drive bouncing over the mid-wicket boundary.
Warne was given the treatment as well, Cairns turning square and virtually straight driving it off the back foot for six over square leg. The shot brought up NZ's 200 in 310 minutes.
However, it was new ball time. Brett Lee took up the attack from the grandstand end and immediately found the edge of Wiseman's bat - twice. Frustratingly for Lee, the edges brought eight runs courtesy of two fours, the first through slips, the second past the stumps and Gilchrist.
McGrath and Lee were resorting to their quota of bouncers; the New Zealand pair were evading them with disdainful aplomb until Lee got one to rise on Wiseman, it took the glove and ballooned away for Gilchrist to take the catch, his 10th in the match. Wiseman had contributed 16.
Daryl Tuffey joined Cairns but their partnership was short. In the very next over, Cairns, after sending McGrath through mid-wicket, played across the line and was clean bowled for 71, compiled in 136 minutes and including 10 fours and two sixes.
The last pair came together with the score at 228. They did not last long, Shayne O'Connor going lbw to Lee in the next over without scoring. The innings closed at 229, the last three wickets falling for nine runs.
Brett Lee finished the innings with three for 46, McGrath two for 50, Miller two for 58 and Warne two for 61.
Australia came out after tea requiring 210 to win with two days and a 36- over session in which to complete a three-nil series whitewash. Matthew Hayden survived a confident early leg-before appeal from O'Connor courtesy Umpire Dunne.
O'Connor found favour with the umpire when he beat Slater, taking the pad and removing the Ausrtralian opener for 9. It was Slater's second demise of the test lbw to O'Connor for the grand total of 11.
Justin Langer joined Hayden and immediately set about Cairns in a manner that suggested he wanted to end it all before stumps. He took 16 off Cairns' third over, particularly severe on anything short. The Australian 50 came up in the tenth over.
Wiseman was introduced from the city end in the 12th over, the spinner having been to hospital for an x-ray to confirm that the damage to his thumb when he was dismissed in the New Zealand innings was nothing worse than bruising. A Hayden leave gave him hope, shaving the stumps; a Hayden drive, bringing up the 50 partnership in 37 minutes, reminded him of the fine margin for error.
Chris Cairns was taken out of the attack after his seven overs had cost 41 runs, many of them gifted with short balls.
Langer brought up his 50 off 42 balls in 59 minutes and including eight fours. The speed was a record for Australia since ball statistics were kept, beating the 43 balls set by Jack Gregory in 1920/21. However, a few minutes of sunshine spread across the ground and smiled on New Zealand, Wiseman inducing Hayden to dabble for Spearman to take the catch at first slip. Hayden had contributed 37 to an 83-run partnership that had taken just 64 minutes.
Mark Waugh joined Langer with the score at 96. The pair brought up the 100 in the 19th over. But Wiseman and Tuffey tightened their line, putting a brake on the scoring rate, Tuffey even thinking he had his first test wicket, a leg-side caught-behind appeal against Waugh failing to get a positive response from umpire Jayaprakash. In his fifth over, Tuffey even produced that rarity, a maiden.
However, Wiseman and the close-in field did find favour in the next over with Umpire Dunne in a bat-pad appeal against Waugh that replays suggested had little to do with the bat.
Waugh had contributed 18, the score was 124 and the evening light was taking on a distinctly gloomy hue.
Steve Waugh joined Langer with 10 overs remaining. However, the umpires were regularly consulting their light meters and a halt was eventually called for bad light with eight overs left to bowl. Langer remained not out 71, Waugh was on 1, and the total of 137 for 3 left Australia with just 73 runs for victory and two days, Hamilton weather obliging, in which to extend their Test sequence record.