Hobart: A fortunate Phillip Hughes and an enterprising David Warner guided Australia to 0 for 72 in pursuit of 241 to defeat New Zealand following a tense start to the fourth innings of the second Test in Hobart.
Rain arrived during the tea break and could not be shaken, meaning the duo will resume on the fourth morning to confront the session in which 19 wickets have fallen over the first three days. New Zealand's bowlers will consider themselves a chance of disturbing the chase, particularly through the nervy avenue of Hughes.
He had gloved a catch down the legside from the bowling of Chris Martin when he was yet to score, but the visitors' appeal was muted and no DRS referral was requested. While looking uncomfortable as he bats for his Test place, Hughes survived in the company of Warner, who played more confidently though also enjoyed a modicum of luck.
They were batting after rain delayed the post-lunch resumption having watched New Zealand slip from 3 for 139 overnight to 9 for 203. Their lead was given an unlikely top-up by the last pair of debutant Trent Boult and Martin. Boult struck four boundaries and Martin survived nine balls before his partner swung Nathan Lyon into the deep.
Lyon's three wickets meant he had wrapped up the New Zealand tail for the third time in four innings, but it was Peter Siddle and James Pattinson who did the bulk of the heavy lifting for the hosts. Siddle struck in the first over of the morning and persisted admirably throughout, while Pattinson's swing and speed accounted for Ross Taylor, whose 56 was the highest score of the match, and the dogged Dean Brownlie.
Ricky Ponting was late to the ground on the third morning, having received the news that his grandmother had died overnight. Team-mates wore black armbands onto the field in recognition, and were soon patting Ponting on the back as he clung onto a sharp chance in the day's first over. Siddle moved the ball fractionally away on a perfect length, and Kane Williamson's feet did not move swiftly enough to avoid the edge.
Next man Brownlie had been Australia's chief batting tormentor in this series, and for 32 runs he and Taylor hung tough. The ball continued to seam and swing, Siddle and Pattinson persistent and pacey, but in the absence of a wicket Michael Clarke was forced to make a change. Starc has not improved on his first-day bowling at the Gabba, but it was his short ball that disrupted the visitors' progress by clouting Brownlie on the left wrist as he ducked. Magic spray was called for, and Brownlie's touch was affected.
Taylor watched it all from the other end, and next over he did not get far enough forward to negate Pattinson's away swing. As in Brisbane he edged, this time offering a chance that Clarke held adeptly to his right. Pattinson with in fine rhythm in his second spell of the session, and a bouncer grazed Brownlie's ginger left glove on the way through to Brad Haddin.
Reece Young fell victim to Siddle's nip-backer, reward for a wonderfully relentless display, and Tim Southee was unable to contain himself against Lyon. First ball sailed over Michael Hussey's head for six, second skimmed beyond mid-off for four, and the third picked out Hussey in a foolhardy attempt to repeat the first. Doug Bracewell swung rashly two balls later to be bowled.
Martin was very nearly lbw to Lyon before he had scored, but evaded the appeal and allowed Boult to swing for the fences. He did so with success until he picked out Hussey in much the same manner as Southee had done.
Hughes faced up to the first over of Australia's chase and played Martin solidly enough, but in the third he should have been out. He looked a guilty man as New Zealand chose not to refer to technology for proof of a gloved catch, and went on to capitalise on their oversight.
Warner was the more positive of the duo, eluding a trio of lbw appeals that did not quite meet the precise criteria for a dismisal, and once snicking Southee past his leg stump to the fine leg fence. He also managed a handful of more authoritative boundaries, and gave his partner Hughes an embrace of solidarity as they walked off for the interval and ultimately the day.