India retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy after an enthralling three-wicket win over Australia in the final Test in Brisbane.

Led by Shubman Gill (91), Rishabh Pant (89 not out) and Cheteshwar Pujara (56), India incredibly passed their target of 328 late on day five on Tuesday.

It wrapped up a 2-1 series victory and ended Australia's stellar record at the Gabba, where they were unbeaten in their previous 31 Tests.

Pat Cummins (4-55) was the pick of Australia's bowlers, but India managed the third highest successful chase in their history and highest at the Gabba.

Rohit Sharma (7) fell early after edging Cummins behind, but Gill and Pujara blunted the Australia attack with a 114-run partnership.

Gill was the aggressor, while Pujara survived a tight lbw review off Nathan Lyon (2-85) when on just two.

Lyon had Gill caught by Steve Smith at first slip before Cummins removed Ajinkya Rahane following the captain's 22-ball 24.

The second new ball brought a much-needed breakthrough for Australia as Cummins finally got Pujara lbw, but Pant continued to impress.

As the dangerous Pant passed 50, Mayank Agarwal (9) survived following a review for a caught behind, but he scooped Cummins to Matthew Wade at short cover the following ball.

Washington Sundar (22 off 29) came and went, but Pant saw India to a remarkable win.

 

Pant times his run to perfection

His wicketkeeping often questioned, Pant produced the match-winning innings on the final day – and he timed it to perfection.

Just three overs were left when India wrapped up their victory, Pant perfectly choosing when to attack and keeping his composure as late wickets fell to lead India to a famous win.

Pujara highlights India bravery

Pujara's innings was just another example of India's fight throughout the series. The right-hander faced 211 balls in the second innings and he was hit repeatedly, including on the hand and in the head, but continued to battle on.

India were struck hard by injuries and saw Virat Kohli return home for the birth of his first child following the opening Test, which they lost after being dismissed for 36. Rahane stepped up in Melbourne and they managed to frustrate Australia in Sydney before a stunning victory in Brisbane.

Starc's struggles hurt Australia

Seemingly dealing with a hamstring injury on the final day, Mitchell Starc's struggles continued as he finished with figures of 0-75.

The left-arm paceman was particularly expensive and barely troubled India, who managed to contain him throughout the series. Starc finished with 11 wickets at 40.72 for the series, while the tourists also had answers to Lyon (nine wickets at 55.11).

Australia endured a batting collapse as India closed in on victory in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.

India's bowlers flexed their muscles after Australia's top order struggled to limp to 133-6 at stumps on day three – a lead of just two runs on Monday.

Australia lost 28-4 in 27.1 overs following tea to be left reeling in Melbourne, where India head into the fourth day needing just four tail-end wickets to win the second Test and level the four-match series.

Joe Burns' woes continued atop the order as Australia's batting fragility was exposed – Matthew Wade (40) and Marnus Labuschagne (28) the pick of the batsmen on a forgettable day.

India returned to the middle 277-5 and leading by 82 runs after capitalising on Australia's poor fielding display on Sunday.

Ajinkya Rahane's memorable innings came to an end on 112 – run out by Tim Paine after Ravindra Jadeja chased a half-century.

Rahane's 112 is the second-highest score by an India captain against Australia at the MCG, after Sachin Tendulkar's 116 in 1999, per Opta. Meanwhile, it is the fifth-highest by any visiting skipper overall.

Jadeja brought up his fifty before he was dismissed by star Australia paceman Mitchell Starc (3-78) and the hosts quickly cleaned up India for 326 as Nathan Lyon (3-72) and Josh Hazlewood (1-47) sent Umesh Yadav (nine), Ravichandran Ashwin (14) and Jasprit Bumrah (0) packing.

India had eyed a lead beyond 200 but instead claimed a 131-run advantage after surrendering 32-5 in 93 deliveries as their tail failed to wag.

In response, Australia crumbled early, especially Burns (four) – who could have been run out twice and faced an lbw appeal before he was caught behind off Yadav (1-5) in the space of just 10 balls amid growing scrutiny.

Yadav limped off injured and just as Wade and Labuschagne navigated Australia through 14 overs and to 38, Ashwin (1-46) drew an edge from the latter, which brought Smith to the crease and the former skipper was bowled around his legs by Bumrah (1-34) for eight.

Wade dug deep in a 137-ball display but his dismissal by Jadeja (2-25) opened the floodgates as Australia went from 98-3 to 99-6 when Travis Head (17) and Paine (one) – controversially out on review – were sent pack to the pavilion.

Cameron Green (17 not out) and Pat Cummins (15 not out) thwarted India but the pair and Australia face an uphill battle entering the penultimate day.

Ajinkya Rahane celebrated a gritty hundred as India capitalised on Australia's poor fielding display to claim a first-innings lead on day two of the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.

Stand-in captain Rahane was afforded two lives en route to an unbeaten 104 for India, who reached 277-5 and a lead of 82 before stumps was called prematurely due to rain on Sunday.

Australia were woeful in the field, dropping four catches at the MCG, where Mitchell Starc (2-61) was left visibly frustrated after Travis Head spilled a catch to dismiss centurion Rahane with what proved to be the final ball of the day.

India resumed on 36-1 – in response to Australia's 195 in the second Test – after dominating the opening day in front of a capped Melbourne crowd and the tourists only lost four wickets to take control.

Shubman Gill (45) and Cheteshwar Pujara (17) did not last long as India fell to 64-3 following a masterful spell of bowling from star Australia paceman Pat Cummins (2-71), before the patient and anchoring Rahane got to work in the middle.

Tim Paine put down Gill in the second over of the day off the bowling of Josh Hazlewood (0-44), but the Australia captain made amends when he combined brilliantly with Cummins for two wickets.

Hanuma Vihari added 21 runs before he was sent packing by spinner Nathan Lyon (1-52) – bringing Rishabh Pant to the crease.

Explosive wicketkeeper Pant produced an entertaining 29-run cameo off 40 deliveries, but it came to an end when Starc broke through for his second wicket of the innings.

It brought up a milestone for Starc, who celebrated his 250th Test wicket, as Paine recorded his 150th dismissal.

Supported by Ravindra Jadeja (40 not out), Rahane posted his 12th Test ton and eighth away from home following the tea break – a boundary bringing up a memorable hundred from 195 balls.

Justin Langer is glad he does not have to face Australia's pace attack as the head coach lauded his speedsters.

The trio of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood starred in the first Test against India, who were dismissed for their lowest ever score – 36 – in the second innings in Adelaide.

Cummins, Starc and Hazlewood combined for 17 wickets in the day-night Test, with the latter finishing with 5-8 in the second innings.

Ahead of the second Test against India starting in Melbourne on Saturday, Langer said he was happy with his pacemen.

"I'm glad I've got them in my side and not in another side. Outstanding," he told a news conference.

"The other thing is they're all great mates so they love working together as a unit. Often you rate a bowling attack by who's just on the outer and you look at James Pattinson. He's a gun. He's an excellent Test cricketer.

"You've got someone like Michael Neser, we've got Sean Abbott here, we've got other young bowlers like Jhye Richardson coming back from injury.

"It's a fantastic attack, but guys know they've got to stay on their toes regardless of how talented and how well they prepare. In past Australian teams they had a Shane Warne to back up Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie, Brett Lee, very well-rounded attacks, and if you look at our attack at the moment it's incredibly well-rounded.

"We've got a fast left-armer, Mitchell Starc is bowling as fast as I've ever seen him at the moment. Pat Cummins is a superstar, Josh Hazlewood is like a Brownlow Medallist [awarded to the best and fairest player in the AFL]. I said when I got the job I just can't wait to have Josh Hazlewood in my team because he's so hard to get away and five-fors like the other day are due reward for him for all the work he does.

"It's a great bowling attack and I’m very, very happy it's in the Australian cricket team at the moment."

Australia paceman Mitchell Starc will re-join the squad on Monday as they prepare for the first Test against India.

Starc, 30, left the squad after the first Twenty20 against India due to a family illness.

But in a huge boost for the hosts, the left-armer will re-join his team-mates, with the first Test against India beginning in Adelaide on Thursday.

"We feel for Mitch at this difficult time and we're happy he has taken time out to spend with his family," Australia head coach Justin Langer said.

"We look forward to welcoming him back into the squad on Monday."

After Australia won the ODI series, India claimed a 2-1 victory in the T20s.

Australia paceman Mitchell Starc has withdrawn from the remainder of the Twenty20 series against touring India due to family reasons.

Cricket Australia (CA) announced Starc's withdrawal on Sunday – the day of the second T20 in Sydney – after the star bowler was informed about a family illness.

It remains to be seen when Starc will re-join the Australia squad ahead of their opening Test against India in Adelaide on December 17.

"There is nothing in the world more important than family and in this case Mitch is no exception," said Australia head coach Justin Langer.

"We will give Mitch all the time he needs and welcome him back into the squad with open arms whenever he feels the time is right for him and his family."

Starc, who missed the third and final ODI in Canberra due to injury niggles, returned for Friday's 11-run loss to India in the first T20.

The 30-year-old finished with 2-34, having produced combined figures of 1-149 in the 50-over series.

 

Australia paceman Mitchell Starc backed "huge talent" Riley Meredith to take his chance in England.

Meredith is one of three uncapped players in Australia's squad for three Twenty20s and three ODIs beginning next month.

The 24-year-old has taken 27 wickets at 23.03 in T20s, while his average in List A cricket is 36.80.

Starc praised Meredith and hopes the paceman can step up in four practice matches before the T20 opener against England on September 4.

"I've obviously seen him play some cricket and played the [Sheffield] Shield game against Tassie that he played in last year and he bowled really well, I think he got 'Smithy' [Steve Smith] out twice in that game so he's a huge talent," he said.

"There's been a bit of chat around him for a couple of domestic seasons now and I'm sure he's really excited, along with the other two newcomers to Australian cricket to get underway.

"He bowls fast. I think that's a great thing about him, he can just run in and express himself with the ball now and hopefully he can do so in these practice games and if he gets his chance in Australian colours I think he'll take it with both hands. So, a good chance for another one of the fast-bowling group to come and learn and express his skills on the world stage."

England are the top-ranked ODI team and won the Cricket World Cup on home soil last year.

Starc hopes Australia can deliver against England, who beat them in the semi-finals of the tournament.

"They're still the world champions so, look, they obviously had a game plan in place in the lead-up to the World Cup and they've carried on the way they play their cricket," he said.

"We played them three times during that period and we happened to beat them two out of three but we obviously saved our worst for last.

"It's now a chance for us to talk about the way we want to approach our cricket heading into the 2023 World Cup. We've got a squad of 21 and now we've got a chance to showcase that against the current world champions so hopefully we're in for an exciting series and hopefully one that we can come out on top of."

There is no place in the final XI set of SportsMax Ultimate XI T20 bowlers for a man who, at one time or another, was the world’s foremost T20 bowler after a panel of experts had to make tough choices to reduce a shortlist of the best in the format of all time.

A panel made up of cricket umpire Chris Taylor, former Australian cricketer and commentator Tom Moody, and regional commentator Vernon Springer, today on the SportsMax Zone, had to bring a not-so-short shortlist of 17 bowlers down to six for final discussion tomorrow where another panel will pick three for SportsMax’s Ultimate XI T20 team.

Samuel Badree will not be part of that discussion.

The team is picked through a combination of voting among fans, the panel, and the SportsMax Zone’s team.

Fans vote online, with their collective decision amounting to 35% of the vote, while the Zone team’s votes amount to 25%. The panel has the lion’s share of the percentage with their vote counting for 40%.

Today, the panel had to decide among a group made up of Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga and Ajantha Mendis; Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Sohail Tanvir and Wahab Riaz; Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan; Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan; West Indies’ Sunil Narine, Badree, and Dwayne Bravo; South Africa’s Imran Tahir and Dale Steyn; India’s Jasprit Bumrah; along with Australia’s Dirk Nannes and Mitchell Starc, who would remain in the discussion for a second evening.

From that list, Afridi, Shakib, Umar, Saeed, Ajantha, Imran, Sohail, Badree, Nannes, Wahab, and Bravo, were all cut.

In the case of Bravo, the panel felt the all-rounder would be better suited as one of the Impact Players, a discussion that is to come down the line.

Badree, on the other hand, was seen as limited and not offering as much flexibility as would Rashid or Narine.

According to the panel, Taylor in particular, Badree is at his best when opening the bowling, while Narine and Rashid are useful throughout an innings.

The SportsMax Zone, in response, found no fault with the eventual six the panel came up with. The Zone and panel will discuss the merits and flaws of Malinga, Rashid, Narine, Steyn, Jasprit, and Starc before coming up with a final three.

While fans, call fanalysts, have not yet made up their mind on the three bowlers who would make up their Ultimate XI, there has been a trend that suggests their six for final discussion.

According to fans, Malinga, Narine, Jasprit, Rashid, Bravo, and Nannes would be the six they would have under consideration tomorrow.

Fanalysts can vote by clicking here or going to SportsMax.tv and just clicking on the Ultimate XI tab at the top of the screen.

SportsMax.tv has also built a list of profiles where Fanalysts can go to have a look at the careers of the players who have made the SportsMax Ultimate XI shortlist just in case you want to learn a little more about them before making your choice. To take a look at those players click here.

It is ludicrous to think that Australia’s Mitchell Starc may have been a wicketkeeper had a coach not seen him as a young teen and demanded he put down the gloves and start running in to bowl fast.

Since that day at 14 years old, opposition batsmen have been ruing the foresight of the coach.

Just six years later, Starc was in the Australia squad to India, but he never did well until he was dropped and went to England to play for Yorkshire. There he learned to properly swing the ball.

Starc returned to the Australia side an improved bowler. He was also much quicker than the 135 km/h with which he first rose to the international level, pommelling batsmen with swinging yorkers at 150 km/h plus.

After establishing himself as the Australian spearhead in all forms of the game, Starc finally took the plunge into the Twenty20 leagues, joining the Indian Premier League (IPL), in 2014.

While he did well, he always prioritized international cricket over the T20 leagues. Still, he proved devastating in the Big Bash, leading all wicket-takers in the competition’s inaugural season.

Starc is already considered one of Australia’s greatest fast bowlers.

 

Career Statistics (2009-present)

Full name: Mitchell Aaron Starc

Born: January 30, 1990 (30), Baulkham Hills, Sydney, New South Wales

Major teams: Australia, Australia A, Australia Under-19s, New South Wales, New South Wales Second XI, New South Wales Under-17s, New South Wales Under-19s, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Sydney Sixers, Western Suburbs, Yorkshire

Playing role: Bowler

Batting style: Left-hand bat

Bowling style: Left-arm fast

 

T20I Career – Australia

Mat   Inns    Balls   Runs    Wkts     BBI     BBM    Ave    Econ   SR     4w    5w    10w

31        31      696      802        43       3/11     3/11    18.65   6.91    16.1     0       0       0

T20 Career

Mat   Inns   Balls     Runs     Wkts    BBI      BBM     Ave     Econ     SR      4w    5w    10w

94        93    2055     2451      140      4/15     4/15     17.50   7.15     14.6       1      0         0

 

Career Highlights

  • Secured 43 T20I wickets in 31 matches at 18.65
  • 15 T20 WC wickets in 10 matches
  • 140 T20 wickets captured at 17.50

Mitchell Starc thinks the ICC's recommendation to ban polishing the ball with saliva due to health concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic could lead to boring cricket.

The ICC chief executives' committee will vote on the proposal, which has been put forward to "mitigate the risks posed by the COVID-19 virus", in June.

It has been reported the ICC will not permit the use of an artificial substance to generate movement when the ball is in the air, though players can use sweat.

Australia paceman Starc understands the concerns but thinks bowlers should be offered an alternative to ensure batsmen to not get an advantage.

"I understand that completely and hear what they're saying in terms of a foreign substance, but whether that can be controlled by the umpires in terms of they have a portion of the wax and you can only use a small amount, I don't know, but there needs to be a maintaining of the even contest," Starc said in a video conference.

"I understand what they're saying with foreign substances and that it's black and white in terms of that, but it's an unusual time for the world and if they're going to remove saliva shining for a portion of time they need to think of something else for that portion of time as well.

"Whether it be the wickets being not as flat or at least considering this shining wax to a degree, there needs to be some thought on that, I think.

"I guess you use both those things [saliva and sweat] to shine the ball. I've probably been a bit more on the sweat side, just trying to not get my hands in my mouth too much.

"But I agree completely with what Pat [Cummins] commented on last week: that contest with bat and ball, we don't want to lose that or get further away from that even contest, so there needs to be something in place to either keep that ball swinging.

"They've mentioned that it's only going to be there for a period of time and then once the world gets back to a relatively normal situation then saliva can come back into shining the ball.

"But if it's going to be a window of time there, maybe then instruct people to leave more grass on the wickets to have that contest or if they're going to take away a portion of maintaining the ball, there needs to be that even contest between bat and ball, otherwise people are going to stop watching, and kids aren't going to want to be bowlers.

"I think as we saw in Australia the last couple of years, there's some pretty flat wickets, and if that ball's going straight, it's a pretty boring contest.

"I think [ball manufacturers] Kookaburra have been developing a shining wax or something of the sort, so whether there's consideration of that, there needs to be some maintaining [of] that even contest.

"Generally, the spinners reckon that the wickets that seam a bit also spin, so maybe if you bring the bowlers back into the game, you'll tick all the boxes."

Mitchell Starc has been cleared to miss Australia's final ODI against South Africa to return home and watch his wife Alyssa Healy play in the Women's T20 World Cup final.

Paceman Starc was given the green light to fly back to his homeland to support Healy at the MCG on Sunday when Australia face India.

Australia have lost the series against the Proteas with one match to spare and they will have to do without left-arm quick Starc when they go in search of a consolation win in Potchefstroom on Saturday.

Justin Langer, the Australia head coach, said: "It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance for Mitch to watch Alyssa in a home World Cup final and so we were happy to allow him to return home to support his wife and be part of a fantastic occasion,

"It is something we have been talking about for a while, given Mitch has had a considerable workload in all three formats this summer. 

"His heading home a couple of days ahead of the rest of the squad means he will have a chance to refresh ahead of our home and away ODIs and Twenty20 internationals against New Zealand that will wrap up our season.

"We have plenty of fast bowling options with us here in South Africa with Josh Hazlewood, Jhye Richardson and Kane Richardson all sitting out our previous match in Bloemfontein, and Mitch's absence will offer one of them an opportunity to impress in Saturday's match."

Glenn McGrath believes Australia's bowlers are up there with the best attack they have ever had.

Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson and Nathan Lyon all made an impact when Australia beat New Zealand at Perth Stadium to seal the on-going three-Test series with a game to spare.

Pattinson got his chance after Josh Hazlewood limped out of the first Test with a hamstring injury, giving another demonstration of Australia's strength in depth. 

McGrath spearheaded a formidable Australia attack that included Jason Gillespie, Brett Lee and Shane Warne and he does not rate that unit as being any better than the current crop.

Speaking on the eve of the Pink Test at the SCG, which generates funds for the McGrath Foundation, the former seamer said: "They are right up there, without a doubt, their stats prove that.

"They are forming an attack that can compete with any era of Australian cricket.

"That spell on the day three [in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG] with Pat Cummins and James Pattinson, the way they bowled in tandem, was as good a fast bowling as you'll see anywhere in the world.

"To have Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood as well, four quality bowlers, throw in Nathan Lyon as well, it's as good a bowling attack as we've had.

"A lot people say New Zealand has been disappointing but I think a lot of that has been because of the way our bowlers have bowled.

"In Australian conditions they are tough to face, they will be tough to face anywhere in the world but especially at home."

New Zealand called up uncapped batsman Glenn Phillips on the eve of the final match of the series as cover for Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls, who have been laid low by illness.

Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon wrapped up a dominant victory for Australia as they took a 1-0 lead in the three-match Test series with New Zealand, who crumbled to defeat by 296 runs.

The hosts controlled every facet of a hugely one-sided affair in Perth and went into day four of the day-night Test with a lead of 417.

Australia stretched that advantage to 467 before declaring, allowing Starc and Lyon to help orchestrate another batting collapse from the Black Caps.

Starc took five wickets as New Zealand were dismissed for 166 in the first innings, and he took his figures for the match to 9-97 with an instrumental performance, while Lyon claimed the key wicket of Kane Williamson in his 4-63.

Attention now turns to the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, where New Zealand will need to rediscover the form with the bat they displayed in the recent series win over England to keep their hopes alive.

With no pressure on the Australia batsmen, wickets fell in short order and a declaration from Tim Paine arrived in the morning session on 217-9.

That swift decision paid dividends as New Zealand were two down by lunch, Jeet Raval's recent struggles continuing as he jabbed Starc to Lyon at point before Williamson was undone by the turn of Lyon and gloved to Matthew Wade.

Ross Taylor (22) and Tom Latham (18) provided a brief period of stability that was ended when they each went in the space of five balls. Taylor was caught behind off Starc trying to pull and Latham was given out lbw on review as Lyon struck him plumb on the pads.

Making up superbly for the absence of the injured Josh Hazlewood, Starc and Lyon continued to trade wickets. The spinner accounted for Henry Nicholls (21) to end his useful partnership of 41 with BJ Watling (40), who gloved man of the match Starc down leg, those dismissals separated by Pat Cummins getting in on the act to remove Colin de Grandhomme (33).

De Grandhomme and Watling had produced the most sustained show of defiance in their stand of 56, but the Black Caps' resistance was fleeting thereafter, as Starc and Cummins attacked the tail with a hostile approach built around the short ball.

Mitchell Santner, a centurion against England last month, went for a duck to Cummins, before Starc and Lyon removed Neil Wagner and Tim Southee respectively to round off a rout and leave New Zealand wondering how they can turn things around and claim a first series win in Australia since 1985.

Australia are in command of the first Test against New Zealand, despite collapsing in the final session on day three at Perth Stadium, after Marnus Labuschagne's purple patch with the bat continued.

Eleven wickets fell at Perth Stadium on Saturday, the excellent Mitchell Starc (5-52) claiming his 13th five-wicket Test haul as the tourists were dismissed for 166 in the first session - Ross Taylor making 80.

Australia were cruising with Labuschagne (50) and Joe Burns (53) at the crease, but slumped from 131-1 to 167-6 by the close, Tim Southee taking 4-63 and Neil Wagner 2-40.

Tim Paine's side, without Josh Hazlewood for the rest of the match due to a hamstring injury, remain in complete control despite that late flurry of wickets, leading by a mammoth 417 runs. 

The Black Caps had resumed in deep trouble on 109-5 and they were soon six down when BJ Watling chopped on to a sharp delivery from Pat Cummins.

Taylor added only 14 runs to his overnight total before edging Nathan Lyon to Steve Smith at first slip - and Colin de Grandhomme was caught by the former Australia skipper on 23 when he contentiously became Starc's fifth victim.

Third umpire Marais Erasmus upheld Aleem Dar's on-field decision to give De Grandhomme out despite it not being clear if the ball had struck the all-rounder on the glove.

Labuschagne got in on the act by bowling Mitchell Santner through the gate with a classic leg break and Lyon ended the innings just before lunch by getting rid of Southee.

David Warner passed 7,000 Test runs – taking him above the great Don Bradman on the all-time list in the process - before falling for 19, the left-hander picking out substitute fielder Tom Blundell with an attempted pull when a short ball from Southee got big on him.

Burns was dropped by De Grandhomme on 24 and played with more fluency after a watchful start to his knock, with the in-form Labuschagne - who scored a third consecutive Test century in the first innings - in great touch at the other end. 

They pressed on after taking tea at 75-1, reaching half-centuries in quick succession, while umpire Dar - standing in a record 129th Test - needed treatment on his knee after a collision with Santner.

Labuschagne was looking ominous until he pulled Wagner straight to Santner at midwicket, while Burns followed after fending a short ball from Southee to Henry Nicholls in the gully.

Smith fell to Wagner for only 14 before a fired-up Southee removed Travis Head and Tim Paine - who failed to score – though Australia are still firmly on top despite the dramatic finish to proceedings.

Steve Smith produced a stunning one-handed catch to remove Kane Williamson on the second day of Australia's first Test against New Zealand, though Mitchell Starc always expected his brilliant team-mate to take the chance.

Starc finished with 4-31 from 11 overs at stumps as the Black Caps were reduced to 109-5 in reply to Australia's first-innings total of 416.

While Ross Taylor will resume on 66 not out on Saturday, Australia have already got the key wicket of Williamson, who fell for 34 when Starc and Smith combined in spectacular fashion.

Former Australia captain Smith flung out his right hand to take a remarkable diving grab at second slip, not that the bowler of the delivery shared the crowd's amazement.

"Unfortunately for him, you sort of expect that from Steve," Starc explained to reporters.

"He's done that a few times. It was fantastic to create that buzz in the crowd and certainly out on the ground for us.

"The big wicket of Kane - being the captain as well - to hang onto him was a big moment in tonight's session.

"It was a fantastic catch, and it's always nice to see the boys hang on."

Starc added: "It happens pretty quick. It was a special grab.

"He's such a good player, whether it be with bat or in the field, you almost, unfortunately for him, expect that he's going to hold onto those nine times out of 10."

It was not all plain sailing for the hosts, who lost Josh Hazlewood to a suspected hamstring injury after he had bowled just eight balls - one of which clattered into opener Jeet Raval's stumps.

The extent of Hazlewood's problem is due to be confirmed on Saturday, with Starc already facing up to the possibility of Australia being one bowler down for at least the remainder of this Test.

"It's never nice seeing anyone go down, especially one of your best mates," Starc added.

"I'm not sure how those scans have come back, hopefully there's some positivity out of that. I guess it makes it tough now with a bowler down. It was for the Kiwis with [Lockie] Ferguson going down.

"The plus side is we've got them five down tonight and hopefully for Josh it's not too bad and, if it is going to keep him out for the rest of the week, it's not too big a break to get that hammy right."

Starc shone with the pink ball in the day-night Test, though admitted he still prefers all-day matches.

Asked whether he wanted all Tests to be day-night encounters given his performance, Starc replied: "Nope. Don't overdo it, I'd say.

"It's great for cricket but I'm still a traditionalist at heart. Don't take too many away from the red-ball game."

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