It can be said with assurance that Australia did not miss the services of Josh Hazlewood on the fourth day. Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon shared all ten Kiwi wickets between them to give the hosts a thumping victory.
Man of the match, Starc picked nine wickets in the game while Lyon added four more to his two in the first innings.
Bowling with relentless accuracy, Cummins bowled 19 overs in the heat, giving away only 31 runs. Making up for a bowler down, not even a single over in his five spells was without purpose. It was difficult to believe that he had only one wicket to show for his effort in the Test until the 17th over of his spell.
In a similar pattern to last evening, wickets fell in a heap once the pacers were operating in the twilight. Starc and Cummins shared four wickets in four overs to ensure that the match did not go into the last day. Changing his approach to bowl round the wicket instead, Cummins in his 18th over, bounced off Colin de Grandhomme (33). Continuing the intimidation, Starc and Cummins bounced out BJ Watling (40), Mitchell Santner (0) and Neil Wagner (8) in the next three overs.
Tim Paine finally managed to add something to his empty list of successful reviews. A faint tickle off Watling’s gloves down the leg, successfully reviewed by Paine, bagged Starc his third wicket.
Lyon then finished the job as Tim Southee (4) nicked him off to Smith at first slip to bundle the New Zealand innings on 171.
If you cannot beat them, frustrate them. Watling can don a t-shirt with this tagline every day of the week. Prepared to fight it out with no realistic chance, Watling faced 106 balls. One missed reviews - that the umpire did not give out in the first place - and a dropped catch – by none other than Steve Smith - helped him in his toil.
Assisted by de Grandhomme, they battled for 19 overs after Tea. The Australians operated with Lyon, Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne during this period to bring the pacers back in the twilight.
Earlier in the morning, the battle between Neil Wagner and Matthew Wade resumed. Wade continued to play the balls off his body instead. From the other end, Cummins hit the tired-looking de Grandhomme for two crisp boundaries. When it was Cummins’ turn to face the assault, Wagner had him caught down the leg.
Relieved to face a bowler a yard slower than Wagner, Wade (17) attacked de Grandhomme. Being carried away after hitting two boundaries, he was dismissed in exactly the same way as Smith last night albeit, off a different bowler.
Starc hit a quick-fire 23 (21), hitting four boundaries, the last one in Wagner’s 60th over of the Test – the most he has ever bowled in a single game. Top edging a heave, Ross Taylor accepted a dolly to give Southee a fifer. Australia declared with 467 runs ahead.
New Zealand had a better start to their second innings, but only just. Looking reassured for the long haul, the openers survived the first six overs. Four more than what they did in the first innings. Jeet Raval (1) put his place in the side in jeopardy after he failed to control a short-ish ball from Starc. The outside edge lobbed to Lyon at gully.
In an attempt to attack Kane Williamson, Starc offered him a couple of freebies up-front that were put away by him. Starting with three maidens in a row, Cummins bowled the only bad ball of his spell to Williamson. A juicy half volley driven poignantly for four.
As Lyon walked to bowl first change, Williamson carefully studied the rough patches on the pitch that were outside the off stump. Of all the shots running in his mind, he chose the one that was not on the list. Taken aback by the bounce, Williamson took a jab and lobbed one of the easiest catches to short-leg. If the Kiwis had any hope of saving the match, it walked back with Williamson just before lunch.
Tom Latham and Taylor offered some resistance after lunch but were dismissed in back-to-back overs. Taylor, going for the pull off Starc, under edged the ball to Paine. Latham missed a straighter one from Lyon and was given LBW on review. Henry Nicholls bat-padded one to the silly-point right at the stroke of tea.
It is tough to take positives for the Kiwis out of the game that was lost by a significant margin. A comparatively strong line-up suffered the same fate as their teams in the past three decades. The little session in the twilight on the third day should give them something to take into the Boxing Day Test at MCG. With one more bowler to attack the tourists, the Australian team currently looks unbeatable.