Hobart: Openers David Warner and Phillip Hughes gave Australia a strong platform for victory over New Zealand before rain ended play early on the third day of the second Test on Sunday.
The two New South Wales left-handers put on 72 without loss off 19 overs to give the Australians a flying start as they chase 241 at Hobart`s Bellerive Oval to wrap up a two-nil series win over the Black Caps.
Australia thrashed New Zealand by nine wickets in the first Test in Brisbane last weekend.
No play was possible after tea, with Warner on 47 off 50 balls with eight boundaries and a concentrated Hughes not out 20 from 64 deliveries.
Australia will push for victory on the fourth day tomorrow, requiring 169 more runs with all 10 wickets intact.
A total of 30 wickets have fallen in the eight of sessions play in a Hobart Test where the ball has dominated the bat.
Neither opener had too many troubles, although "Hot Spot" replays suggested Hughes may have gloved a leg-side catch to wicketkeeper Reece Young off Chris Martin in the third over before he had scored, but the Kiwis did not seek a review.
Hughes is seeking a big innings to ease pressure on his Test spot after three cheap dismissals caught behind the wicket off Martin`s bowling during the series.
The Kiwis, leading by 14 runs on the first innings, lost seven wickets for 87 in the extended morning session to be all out for 226 at lunch after resuming the day at 139 for three.
The Black Caps unravelled after the loss of skipper Ross Taylor and Dean Brownlie, with their frail tail throwing the bat at the Australian bowlers.
James Pattinson (3-54), Peter Siddle (3-66) and spinner Nathan Lyon (3-25) shared the wickets.
Taylor top-scored with 56 off 169 balls but once he departed along with first innings top-scorer Brownlie (21), the Kiwi innings collapsed.
Kane Williamson was out on the third ball of the day, brilliantly caught by a diving Ricky Ponting at second slip off Siddle for 34.
Pattinson dropped a sharp caught and bowled chance off Taylor before the Kiwi captain brought up his 15th Test half-century off the next ball.
But the bowler had his revenge in the 63rd over when he enticed Taylor to nick an outswinger to Michael Clarke at first slip.
Brownlie, who was hit on the left hand by a Mitchell Starc delivery, tried to get out of the way of a Pattinson bouncer only to be caught behind off the back of his bat for 21.
New Zealand were into their tail, minus injured allrounder Daniel Vettori, as they sought enough runs to defend in the fourth innings of the Test.
Wicketkeeper Young was out 15 minutes before lunch, lbw to Siddle for nine, but Tim Southee (13), Doug Bracewell (4) and Trent Boult (21) were out irresponsibly slogging spinner Lyon.
First Published: Sunday, December 11, 2011, 14:19