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Nathan Lyon rescues Australia with bat and ball as New Zealand fight back in first Test

Australia are seven wickets from retaining the Trans-Tasman Trophy and winning the first Test against New Zealand, with Nathan Lyon at the centre of their toil.

Spinner Lyon made an innings-high 41 as the tourists slumped to 164 in their second dig; disappointing, but still enough to set the Black Caps an improbable 369 for victory.

A session into their mighty chase, New Zealand were 111-3 at stumps on day three, still 258 runs from what would be their first home victory over their arch-rivals in 31 years.

While a huge task remained, the Kiwis enjoyed their best day of the Basin Reserve Test on Saturday.

The man behind their impressive bowling effort was their best performer with the bat: Glenn Phillips.

Phillips (5-45) ripped through the Australian middle order, removing Travis Head (29) and Mitch Marsh (golden duck) in consecutive balls to set up an unlikely hat-trick attempt.

Alex Carey survived that delivery but Phillips claimed the wicketkeeper soon after, adding him to Usman Khawaja (28) and Cam Green (34) on his list of victims.

Not bad for someone who started his international career as a T20 wicketkeeper, and who captain Tim Southee had overlooked for a spell as Australia tallied 383 in their first innings.

“Credit to Glenn, I thought he bowled really well,” Lyon said. “Stuck to his pretty simple game plan … he was too good.”

Matt Henry followed up his first innings 5-70 with another solid 3-36.

Australia’s limp second innings effort didn’t even match Cam Green’s unbeaten first innings 174.

Only Lyon, given his batting average of 12, could stand tall, though he fell short of a career ambition.

The 36-year-old struck six boundaries on the way to his second-highest score in 162 innings, but not the Test half-century he has long craved.

“That’s the second time in my career I’ve top-scored, and let’s hope it’s the last,” Lyon said.

It would have been an even better day for New Zealand if they had held their catches.

Poor fielding blighted the Black Caps, with Scott Kuggeleijn, Southee twice, and Henry Nicholls all dropping regulation chances.

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When New Zealand took to the crease just before tea, captain Pat Cummins wasted little time bringing Lyon into the attack – for good reason.

Lyon (2-27) had Tom Latham caught behind while cutting with just his second ball, and followed up with the prize wicket of Kane Williamson soon after the break.

A well set-field contributed to Williamson’s demise as the former captain glanced Lyon’s ball finely down the leg side straight to Steve Smith at an unorthodox leg slip for nine.

Smith pulled off a second catch soon after, a late-reaction one-handed stunner at slip to dismiss Will Young off Head’s spin.

From that point, New Zealand stood strong, Rachin Ravindra (56) and Daryl Mitchell (11) putting together a much-needed half-century stand to keep Kiwi dreams alive heading into day four.

It remains to be seen whether Will O’Rourke – their tidiest pace bowler with 0-11 including four maidens – can bat, given the 22-year-old hobbled off the field with a tight hamstring in his eighth over.

Success for New Zealand would break multiple records.

Chasing down 369 would be New Zealand’s biggest successful fourth-innings chase in their 94-year Test history, as well as the biggest successful fourth-innings chase at the Basin Reserve by almost 100 runs.

It would also end the Black Caps’ 31-year run without a home win against Australia, and keep alive their hopes of winning back the Trans-Tasman Trophy, out of their hands for that same timespan.

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