While the late strikes may have lifted morale in the Kiwis’ dressing room, they have only highlighted how difficult it will be for their batsmen under lights.
If they are to save this game, they will likely have to bat through two evening sessions. Twelve of the 26 wickets to fall have come in the final period of the day.
The Kiwis showed that it’s not just the new ball that is threatening at night. The ball was into its 43rd over when Australia lost four quick wickets in a dramatic finish to the day.
“It shows how tough it can be to bat at night when it’s a little bit two-paced,” Kiwi veteran Ross Taylor said.
Joe Burns, Labuschagne, Steve Smith and Travis Head all fell to the short ball.
But there is a still a sense of the inevitable about this game with the main question being when Tim Paine’s side will wrap up their fifth consecutive win at home – and third of the summer – rather than if.
Australia reached stumps on 6-167, a lead of 417, on the third day after New Zealand were skittled for a miserable 166.
Joe Burns expects Nathan Lyon to play a leading role in Australia’s push for victory.
“It changes the dynamic without our third quick, so we have to consider that as well,” Burns said regarding a victory target.
“We’re fortunate we have the GOAT, a world-class spinner , who can take five-for.”
The injury to Hazlewood was the sour point for the men in the baggy green, who made the world’s No.2 side look decidedly second rate before the Black Caps late run.
Spinner Mitch Santner has been ineffective, providing more danger to umpire Aleem Dar than he has the Australian batsmen. Play was stopped for several minutes as Dar had his knee treated after a collision in the field with Santner. The official was cleared to continue adjudicating in his record-breaking game.
Three days into the series, the Black Caps face an almighty test of their character and resilience if they are to save this game. Even if they are to lose, which appears likely, they can still salvage something if they go down fighting.
In the years to come, this summer will be looked upon as the one which marked Starc’s second coming as a world force.
The speed demon could have responded to his Ashes snubbing in a more emphatic fashion and must be back among the first picked in the Test XI.
Pakistan could not find a way to negotiate one of Australia’s finest left-arm quicks last month, and now it’s the Kiwis’ turn to feel his wrath as Starc’s love-hate relationship with the pink ball continued.
The paceman is one of the strongest critics of day/night Tests even though he excels in the format.
In his seventh Test under lights, Starc has taken 38 wickets at 20, vastly superior to his overall numbers which, it must be said, are more than decent.
Starc prefers the traditional red ball but he will be taking home another pink globe to place in his trophy cabinet. He certainly had no problem raising the ball to celebrate his 13th bag of five or more wickets.
Starc’s 5-52 has taken his summer haul to 19 wickets at a miserly 15, the sort of figures you expect to see from a junior playing well above their grade instead of a bowler plying their trade at the elite level.
Andrew Wu writes on cricket and AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald