Joe Burns 6
After missing out on day one, he consolidated his position in the side with a determined half-century under lights in the second innings that will give his confidence a boost heading to Boxing Day.
Marnus Labuschagne 10
Another game, another ton for the rising star, who became only the ninth Australian man to score three consecutive Test centuries. The Queenslander passed 1000 runs and is arguably the form batsman in the world cricket right now.
Steve Smith 7
These are strange times for the best player in the game, who has not reached 50 in four innings. Smith looked well below his best on the first day, but his perseverance allowed Australia to set the game up. Still sharp in the field with one of the catches of the summer.
Matthew Wade 5.5
Underwhelming numbers for the left-hander, who was bowled shouldering arms in the first innings and worked over by Neil Wagner in the second. Did not shirk the issue though his method was not the most convincing.
Travis Head 6
The vice-captain will be kicking himself he did not turn his half-century into a ton, which has been an issue throughout his first-class career. Ricky Ponting’s criticism of him was warranted. The Black Caps will be encouraged by his dismissal to the short ball.
Tim Paine 7
Underrated effort in the first innings as it allowed Australia to push past 400 and take the new ball under lights. Let himself down by fumbling a run out opportunity, but his captaincy was solid again. Posted a rare DRS victory.
Pat Cummins 7.5
Maintained his high standards even if most of the spoils went to Mitchell Starc. With a bit more luck, he would have finished with the bag of wickets. Stuck in with the bat which was important in terms of getting the Kiwis starting after sundown.
Mitchell Starc 9.5
Outstanding game by the left-arm speedster, who has returned to his very best. Has developed more control without impacting on his pace. Like Cummins, he stepped up in the absence of Josh Hazlewood. Next challenge is to have a big impact with the red ball.
Nathan Lyon 8
Excellent performance by the GOAT, who was allowed to call the shots against a Kiwis line-up that lacked initiative. His wicket of Kane Williamson was a hammer blow in the Black Caps’ bid for survival.
Josh Hazlewood N/A
How much sooner would this game have finished if the giant paceman did not break down in his second over? The extra bounce he generates would have made him a dangerous proposition on this pitch. Was looking threatening in the eight balls he bowled.
Jeet Raval 1
Was completely outclassed at the top of the order, contributing just one and one, and is likely to be axed for Melbourne. Was bowled off his pads by a curving Josh Hazlewood inswinger in the first innings and was baffled in the second by a short ball from Mitchell Starc that hit a crack and lobbed off the shoulder of his bat to Nathan Lyon at point. Has a career average of 30 in 24 Tests, suggesting he won’t be up to the challenge here.
Tom Latham 3
Fell for a duck in the first innings when caught and bowled by Starc, but battled hard in the second (18 off 68 balls) before playing back to Nathan Lyon and was trapped lbw to Nathan Lyon on a decision review. Has enjoyed centuries against Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and England this year, but a career average of 26 against Australia spells trouble.
Kane Williamson 5
The tourists needed their skipper to take a stand in this match but he wasn’t able to deliver a match-saving knock. Fell for 34 in the first innings when caught spectacularly by an airborne Steve Smith at slip, then for 14 in the second when he bobbed up a simple catch to Matthew Wade at bat pad off Lyon. He is a well-prepared skipper in the field, with the Black Caps’ tactics working treat in Australia’s second innings, but it’s runs that count.
Ross Taylor 6
The Black Caps’ second leading run scorer in Test history delivered a stand-out 80 in the tourists’ first innings – one of only three scores in double digits. His innings fell apart after he was fortunate to survive a delivery from Lyon that spun in and almost bowled him. Was out soon after when pushing forward to a looping delivery where Taylor pushed forward and was caught at slip. Fell for 22 in the second trying to pull a Starc delivery that was too full. One statistic for the boffins: according to CricViz, Taylor played his first reverse sweep in Test cricket in seven years, and only the third of his career.
Henry Nicholls 3
Ranked ninth on the ICC ratings, the compact left-hander had a soft first-innings dismissal (7) when he flicked a catch down the leg side. Battled hard in the second (21), but fell pushing forward to Lyon, the ball lobbing off the back of the bat on the rebound. While Williamson and Taylor are the main men, the Black Caps need runs from elsewhere – and Nicholls has to provide something in Melbourne.
Neil Wagner 8.5
The robust left-armer won praise from everyone, including Justin Langer, for the manner in which he relentlessly attacked the Australians with a short-pitched barrage in conditions where temperatures touched 40C and the tourists were a bowler down. This was as brave a performance as they come, claiming 4-92 off 37 overs in the first innings and 3-59 off 23 overs in the second. His battle with Matthew Wade on Saturday night and the next morning was excellent viewing.
BJ Watling 4.5
Regarded as the best batsman-wicketkeeper in the world (averaging 70 with the bat this year), Watling showed good signs here. His glovework was clean and he learnt from his first-innings dismissal when he played on to a 142km/h delivery from Cummins. Was hit on the grill by a rearing delivery from Cummins in the second innings but battled on to make 40 off 106 balls.
Colin de Grandhomme 5
Has a thick mop of hair and had to sweat it up more than expected after Ferguson was hurt. Following the great tradition of “dibbly dobbler” nagging medium pacers, he conceded only 37 runs off 22 overs in Australia’s first innings and battled hard in the second innings. Went after the Australians with the bat in the first innings and occupied time in the second.
Mitchell Santner 2
Would have been really disappointed with wicketless performance. While he is not a great turner of the ball, the left-arm finger spinner failed to have any impact, conceding 111 off 33 overs in the home team’s first dig. Did nothing to suggest he will be a threat this series. Indeed, his most memorable moment came when he collided with umpire Aleem Dar, the veteran Pakistani umpire left writhing on the ground in pain.
Tim Southee 8.5
This was a superb effort from the veteran seamer, who on his fourth tour here thoroughly deserved his ninth five-wicket haul (5-69 off 21.1 overs) in Australia’s second innings of 9-217 (dec). This added to his 4-93 off 30.2 overs in the first innings. The Black Caps’ first-innings collapse meant their bowlers didn’t have much time to rest and Southee, initially, appeared spent. But under lights on Saturday, he turned marksman, one brute of a delivery from around the wicket ballooning off the gloves of Joe Burns to gully.
Lockie Ferguson 1
Deserved a vote. Managed only 11 overs in Australia’s first innings before a calf strain ended his match – and possibly tour. An outright quick, he was set to enjoy the conditions on offer in his debut Test. Will be replaced by Trent Boult in Melbourne, who missed Perth because of an intercostal injury.
Jon Pierik is cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.
Andrew Wu writes on cricket and AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald