After David Warner smashed his 24th Test ton, off-spinner Nathan Lyon claimed another five-wicket haul to help Australia smash New Zealand by 279 runs in the third Test and complete a series whitewash over New Zealand at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Monday (January 6).
Warner slammed nine fours in his unbeaten knock of 111, while Marnus Labuschagne got out after scoring 59. Australia scored 217 for 2 in 52 overs before declaring. The hosts, who scored 454 in their first innings, ended up with a lead of 420 runs but five runs were deducted from their total because of the penalty that was put on them after Warner was caught running on the danger area.
Chasing a huge target of 416, New Zealand kept on losing wickets at regular intervals and were bundled out for just 136 in 47.5 overs. Lyon, who took 5 for 68 in the first innings, claimed 5 for 50 in the second innings to finish with match figures of 10 for 118. All-rounder Colin de Grandhomme was the only batsman who put on some fight, scoring an attacking half-century.
It was a cloudy morning and with gloomy conditions, Australian openers Warner and Burns had no other option but to play more aggressively. The two didn't allow Will Somerville to settle in with Burns chipping him over deep mid-wicket for a maximum. Meanwhile, Warner went after Matt Henry and slammed him for back-to-back boundaries through the offside.
New Zealand stand-in skipper Tom Latham was forced to go back to Neil Wagner and the ace paceman straightaway started attacking Warner with short deliveries. Meanwhile, Burns was trying to go after the spinners as he smoked Todd Astle down the ground for his second six of the day. The leg-spinner however soon got his revenge as he trapped Burns right in front of the stumps for 40, but only after the two openers had added 107 runs - their sixth 100-plus partnership in Test cricket.
Astle also had an opportunity to dismiss Labuschagne for a single-digit score but the 33-year-old spilt a simple return catch when the right-hander was batting on just 4. The No. 3 batsman didn't look at his best at the start of his innings but Warner kept the scoreboard moving and even looked untroubled against Astle who was getting decent purchase off the surface. The left-handed opener has an average of over 164 against leg-spinners and he scores at a strike rate of almost 97 against them.
Meanwhile, 2019's highest run-getter in Test cricket and first-innings double centurion, Labuschagne too started to get into his groove and played a couple of cheeky shots against Somerville, not allowing the offspinner to get his line and length right. Labuschagne (896) might have scored more runs than Warner (786) in this home season but the latter averages 131 this Australian summer compared to Labuschagne's 112.
Warner completed his century by whipping Henry towards deep mid-wicket and just after that Labuschagne brought up his eighth half-century. The two started playing more aerial shots once they reached their personal milestones and that didn't quite work for Labuschagne who was caught at long-on when he was on 59. Skipper Tim Paine then opted to declare the innings, setting New Zealand a massive target.
New Zealand, who have touched the 250-run mark only once in this series, got off to a worst possible start as Starc removed both of their openers inside five overs. While Blundell (2) sliced a wide juicy half volley towards the point region where Lyon dived to his right to take a stunning catch, Latham was guilty of walking across the line and ended up getting lbw for just 1. Having been reduced to 4 for 2, New Zealand needed Jeet Raval and their most experienced batsman Taylor to step up and come up with something extraordinary, but Lyon had other plans.
The off-spinner, who has an amazing record against left-handers, managed to induce Raval's outside edge (12) willow and Paine behind the stumps made no mistake whatsoever. Lyon then dismissed debutant Glenn Phillips in a similar fashion in his next over, reducing the Black Caps to 22 for 4. Taylor, however, showed some fight and in the process leapfrogged Stephen Fleming (7172) to become New Zealand's highest run-getter in Test cricket. The celebration didn't even last long as the No. 1 Test bowler Pat Cummins bowled a snorter that nipped away a bit to knock over Taylor's off-stump when he was on 22.
De Grandhomme walked in at No. 7 and the 33-year-old tried to take the attack to Australian bowlers. Whenever Lyon tried to toss up the delivery, de Grandhomme went downtown. Meanwhile, BJ Watling (19) was hardly doing any scoring and was just looking to play out as many deliveries as possible. De Grandhomme completed his eighth fifty by smoking Lyon over extra covers for a six but the offspinner had him caught at the deep mid-wicket on the very next delivery. The all-rounder smashed five fours and a six in his 68-ball 52.
Astle (18-ball 17) then played a couple of attacking shots off Labuschagne's bowling but when he tried to the same to Lyon, he ended up mistiming one towards the mid-wicket region where James Pattinson ran all the way from long-on and took a superb diving catch. Despite wickets falling at the other end, Watling kept on blocking but finally ran out of patience and tried to sweep Lyon, only to end up hitting it straight into the hands of Cummins at square leg.
Lyon, who had an average of 47.6 at this venue prior to this Test, finished with 10 wickets in this encounter at an average of 11.8. Australia (296) remained unbeaten throughout their summer and are now 64 points behind the table-toppers India (360) in the World Test Championship.