Newcomer Glenn Phillips lived a charmed life as New Zealand kept their first innings flickering against Australia in the third Test in Sydney on Sunday. Phillips, who only flew in as cover on the eve of the Test with the team hit by a virus outbreak, was dropped twice and given a reprieve when caught off a no-ball. Phillips made full use of his good fortune to head to tea unbeaten on 30 with Todd Astle not out 10 in New Zealand's 210 for six in reply to Australia's 454 on day three.
It was the longest innings of a disastrous lost series for the Kiwis, bettering the 71 overs they faced in the second innings of the second Melbourne Test. Spinner Nathan Lyon put down two caught and bowled chances when Phillips was on two and 17. The Kiwi batsman dodged another bullet on 28 when he was caught by Travis Head at deep midwicket only to be recalled when James Pattinson was found to have over-stepped for a no-ball.
The Blackcaps lost three wickets in the middle session with experienced Ross Taylor out in the second over after lunch leg before wicket to Pat Cummins for 22. Taylor remains 20 runs away from becoming the highest-scoring New Zealand batsman in Tests behind Stephen Fleming (7,172). Wicketkeeper BJ Watling, with a reputation for lengthy stays at the crease, chopped a wide Mitchell Starc delivery on to his stumps for nine off 30 balls to put his team further under pressure.
Colin de Grandhomme was needlessly run out for 20 taking on Matthew Wade's throw from the deep to wicketkeeper Tim Paine while attempting a second run. Lyon grabbed two key wickets in the morning session, removing Melbourne Test centurion Tom Blundell and recalled Jeet Raval. Raval, who was dropped after twin batting failures as an opener in the first Perth Test, batted positively at number three.
But his innings came to an end when he was beaten by Lyon and was trapped leg before wicket for 31 off 58 balls. Tom Latham was out two balls later in the next over from Cummins, done by a fuller delivery off the slower surface and chipping straight to Mitchell Starc at mid-on.The new skipper, deputising for the sidelined Kane Williamson, was denied a deserved half-century on 49 in his 133-ball vigil.
Blundell fell in the day's fifth over bowled by Lyon for 34. Blundell attempted to play off the back foot only to miss it with the ball coming off his left leg and on to the stumps. The Sydney Test is being played against the backdrop of one of Australia's most devastating bushfire seasons with at least 24 people losing their lives in blazes raging across the country, including on the outskirts of Sydney. Play will be suspended in the match at the umpire's discretion, should smoke significantly affect air quality or visibility, but the sky above the ground has remained largely clear so far.