New Zealand are on the verge of a drought-breaking Test victory against Australia | Australian cricket team

New Zealand are in the front seat to secure a drought-breaking Test victory against their arch-rivals after Australia were eliminated on the third day of the second Test.

Matt Henry and debutant Ben Sears chased 279 points to victory and powered through the Australian top-order at Hagley Oval on Sunday, leaving Australia dazed 34-4.

Travis Head and Mitch Marsh withstood a formidable onslaught all the way to stumps, but at 77-4 with 203 games left to win, Australia have their work cut out for them.

New Zealand flipped the script on decades of Australian trans-Tasman Test dominance on day three in Christchurch, capitalizing on a promising day.

With a score of 134-2 and a lead of just 40 points, the Black Caps knew that a strong second innings total would see them claim their first Test win at home against Australia in 31 years.

Rachin Ravindra (82) and Daryl Mitchell (58) set the tone with half-centuries between them and joined Tom Latham (73) and Kane Williamson (51) in putting together fifties on Saturday.

Even Scott Kuggeleijn contributed with the bat, hitting 44 off 49 to thwart the Australian attack.

New Zealand’s final total of 372 was more than double its previous effort with the bat in the two-Test series.

Australia bowled without penetration on a wicket, which improved from session to session in the Test.

Pat Cummins gave eight players from the Australian team a chance to bowl, including Marnus Labuschagne, who earned a cheer in the Bronx when he hit a short-pitch ball into the net on his first ball.

Cummins led with 4-62, including the wickets of half-centurions Williamson, Ravindra and Latham.

Captain Pat Cummins scored 4-62 in New Zealand’s second innings, helping Australia stay in touch in the second Test Photo: Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images

Nathan Lyon came late to the party, taking three of the last four wickets and finishing with 3-49.

Most of Australia’s wickets came from edges, with Alex Carey setting an Australian all-time record with ten catches behind the stumps.

Ravindra pushed New Zealand forward, starting on 11 and extending New Zealand’s lead into three figures by dancing over the wicket and pushing Lyon to the long-on boundary.

The 24-year-old increased his scoring rate and celebrated his half-century with a direct drive against Mitch Marsh.

Ravindra was criticized for two common dismissals in the first innings in this series, but bounced back with 50s in the second innings in both Tests.

He combined with Mitchell for the best 123-run stand of the series, which saw New Zealand fare well at 278-3.

Both fell behind shortly after Australia took over the new ball.

Tom Blundell (9) followed as Marnus Labuschagne dived well at cover, only for the Australian’s number 3 to drop Kuggeleijn in the slip chain when he was on two.

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Kuggeleijn and Glenn Phillips added another half-century partnership, making Australia’s fourth innings all the more difficult.

If the flattened pitch offered hope to the Australian bats, Henry and Sears soon extinguished it.

Henry, chasing a first innings of 7-67, was unplayable at times in a nine-over game from the Botanical Gardens end, winning both openers.

The 32-year-old caught Steve Smith (9) straight in front while Usman Khawaja (11) was caught brilliantly by Southee at third slip.

In his first Test outing, Sears had Labuschagne (6) caught and bowled off the front edge, just two balls after Mitchell wasted a great chance at second slip.

Cameron Green (5) was beaten by Sears for his pace and continued to play.

Test debutant Ben Sears took two critical wickets on the third day of the second Test to help New Zealand take command. Photo: John Davidson/AP

While Marsh and Head have stabilized the ship over the last half hour, Australia is still a long way from home.

Lyon said Australia were still confident because of their batting depth.

“We have full confidence and full faith,” he said. “Everything is possible.”

A defeat for Australia would mean a second straight series of draws after their home disappointment against the West Indies.

For New Zealand it would save the series 1-1 and provide a home win the likes of which a generation of New Zealanders have never experienced.

“That would be a great accomplishment,” Latham said.

“If that comes tomorrow, fantastic, but… for us tomorrow it’s about taking every ball at once.”

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