Blackcaps v Australia: Nightwatchman Nathan Lyon torments NZ bowlers on third day at Wellington

Part-time spinner Glenn Phillips is doing his utmost to drag New Zealand back into the opening test against Australia on the third day at Wellington.

Arriving at lunch on 113/4 and 317-run lead, the visitors were inexorably taking victory out of the  Blackcaps' hands, with first-innings centurion Cam Green and Travis Head at the crease.

After the resumption, Phillips took matters into his own hands, removing Head, caught by Scott Kuggeleijn, then had Mitchell Marsh close in by Will Young next ball. Suddenly, the Aussies were teetering at 127/6.

Glenn Phillips celebrates a wicket against Australia.
Glenn Phillips celebrates a wicket against Australia. Photo credit: Getty Images

Wicketkeeper Alex Carey survived the hattrick ball, but lasted only eight more, before lobbing Phillips to NZ captain Tim Southee.

New Zealand finally had the wicket it coveted, when Green lunged forward to Phillips and Young took a sprawling catch at short leg. Green was gone for 34, Australia were 146/8 and Phillips had his first test five-wicket bag.

They could have been in bigger trouble, when Pat Cummins skied a high chance off Phillips, but Kuggeleijn spilled a running catch in the swirling wind. Soon after, Cummins repeated the shot and sub fielder Henry Nicholls spilled it on the boundary.

Among the wickets, New Zealand lost the services of rookie fast bowler Will O'Rourke, who appeared to tweak a hamstring mid-over and immediately left the field.

Earlier, nightwatchman Nathan Lyon maintained his unwanted place in cricketing folklore, despite tormenting the Blackcaps through the morning session.

The spin-bowling legend was elevated up the order shortly before stumps on day two and given a life, when he was by Southee in the slips before the end of play.

Lyon returned in the morning to make the Kiwis rue that mistake, scoring 41 runs, including six boundaries, before he was caught by Young, off Matt Henry's bowling.

Despite his 521 test wickets with the ball, the Aussie tailender holds an ignominious reputation with the bat, scoring the most runs without reaching fifty, with 1501 over 162 innings. He seemed on course to escape that mantle against the shellshocked Blackcaps.

Resuming on 13/2, Lyon's exit reduced the tourists to 53/3, as Cam Green joined opener Usman Khawaja at the wicket.

Khawaja was next to fall, when he lost balance swinging at Phillips' viciously turning spin and wicketkeeper Tom Blundell caught him out of his crease for 28, with Australia at 81/4.

Nathan Lyon hits out against New Zealand.
Nathan Lyon hits out against New Zealand. Photo credit: Getty Images

They arrived at lunch on 113/4, with Green on 17 and Head (24) hitting successive boundaries off Phillips during the final over of the session.

Australia still have New Zealand on the ropes, after scoring 383 in their first dig and skittling their rivals for 179, then choosing not to enforce the follow-on.

While the Blackcaps bowlers did well to chip out opener Steve Smith and first drop Marnus Labuschagne before stumps, they probably needed quick wickets on day three to turn momentum back their way. 

Watching Phillips feats with the ball, Lyon will be licking his lips for the NZ second innings.

Australia 383 & 113/4 (Lyon 41, Khawaja 28, Head 24; Southee 2/29) NZ 179

Australia lead by 317 runs at lunch on day three

More to come