Australia off-spinner Nathan Lyon mocked England's team selection for their third Test hammering by India – declaring the spectacle on a sharply turning pitch in Ahmedabad to be "absolutely brilliant".

The tourists recalled James Anderson and Jofra Archer to feature alongside Stuart Broad and all-rounder Ben Stokes, in anticipation of conditions in the day/night Test being favourable to seamers.

However, a volatile surface offered assistance to spinners from the very start, with England bundled out for 112 and 81 as they lost by 10 wickets.

India only managed 145 in their first innings and England skipper Joe Root claimed career-best figures of 5-8 with his part time off-spin.

Despite being a far more respected practitioner of that particular craft, Lyon insisted he had no qualms over a surface that drew criticism from former England captains Michael Vaughan, Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook.

"The best thing about this Test match that just passed is that England went in with four seamers," Lyon said, as quoted by cricket.com.au.

"That will do me. I don't need to say any more.

"I was up all night watching it. It was absolutely brilliant. I'm thinking about bringing that curator out to the SCG."

Lyon made a pointed reference to Australia's humiliating dismissals for 47 and 60 against South Africa and England in 2012 and 2015 respectively, when conditions favoured seam bowling.

"We play on seaming wickets around the world and get bowled out for 47, 60. Nobody ever says a thing [about the pitch]," he said.

"But as soon as it starts spinning, everyone in the world seems to start crying about it. I don't get it. I'm all for it, it was entertaining."

Despite Lyon's enjoyment of the latest match in the four-Test series, the result harmed Australia's prospects of reaching this year's World Test Championship final.

Only an England win in the final game can edge Tim Paine's side into the inaugural one-off showpiece against New Zealand at India's expense.

That would leave Australia out of action in the longest format until the start of their domestic season at the end of this year – an unhelpfully long time for speculation over ructions between coach Justin Langer and members of his team to fester.

"Me personally, if I had a problem with JL I'd go straight to him," Lyon added, casting doubt upon the rumours that emerged in the aftermath of Australia's humbling 2-1 home loss to an injury-ravaged India.

"But I don't have a problem with him. I don't understand where it's all coming from.

"I'd like to think anyone in that changing room or anyone at Cricket Australia or outside - if anyone has a problem with anyone, we're about being honest with each other."

India batsman Rohit Sharma insisted he had no regrets over the shot he played for what could prove to be a key dismissal in the fourth Test against Australia. 

The tourists closed day two on 62-2 in reply to Australia's 369 all out at the Gabba. 

Opener Rohit had moved to 44 before he tried to attack Nathan Lyon (1-10) and was caught out by a running Mitchell Starc. 

India only need a draw to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy but their task was made more difficult by losing Rohit, who twice made starts - scoring 26 and 52 – without pressing on during the draw in Sydney. 

"I was actually trying to pierce the long-on and that deep square-leg fielder, but it didn't connect the way I would have loved to," said the 33-year-old. 

"Pretty simple. It was something I won't regret. It is something I like to do.  

"I like to put the pressure on the bowler once I am in, and that is my role in the team. To make sure I keep putting that pressure on the bowlers because we have seen throughout the series how run-scoring has been difficult for both the teams. 

"Someone needs to put his hand up and think about how we can put the pressure back on the bowlers and while doing that there are chances you will make a mistake. 

"You should be ready to accept that. I am ready to accept that because it was a plan. It was something that we always planned."

Rohit added: "I actually have no regrets playing that shot. It is something I like to do.  

"Just that Nathan Lyon - we all know he is a smart bowler - bowled into me, which made it difficult for me to get some elevation. 

"It is not coming out of nowhere. It is a shot that I play. And I have played it very well in the past. It is something that I really back myself to do all the time. That is the kind of role I play in this team.  

"Yes, when it looks like that, it looks bad, but that is something I don't think too much into." 

Sunil Gavaskar was among the former players to criticise the shot selection from Rohit, who is opening the batting in Test cricket for the first time away from home during this series. 

"I have opened for India in limited overs for a long time and it is time for me to test myself in this longer format as well," added Rohit. 

"The team has shown confidence in my ability at the top. Just that I have to do what the team expects me to do.  

"Not to worry about what happens anywhere else and what people talk about me. The team expects me to play a certain role at the top of the order, and I will try to do that as much as I can." 

Only 54.2 overs were bowled due to rain on day two. Cheteshwar Pujara (8) and Ajinkya Rahane (2) were unbeaten when stumps were called, with India 307 runs adrift.

Australia were left frustrated as day two of the fourth Test against India was cut short after rain in Brisbane.

Only 54.2 overs were bowled at the Gabba on Saturday as India reached 62-2 in response to Australia's first-innings 369.

Heavy rain delayed the start of the final session before a wet outfield meant play was abandoned.

Tim Paine scored a half-century for Australia as T Natarajan (3-78), Washington Sundar (3-89) and Shardul Thakur (3-94) took three wickets each for India.

Rohit Sharma (44) wasted his start as he tried to attack Nathan Lyon (1-10) after Pat Cummins (1-22) had Shubman Gill (7) caught at second slip by Steve Smith.

Cheteshwar Pujara (8) and Ajinkya Rahane (2) were unbeaten when stumps were called, with India 307 runs adrift in the final Test of a series that is locked at 1-1.

Injury-hit India continued to fight and they only need a draw to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

Australia, though, will also lament some of their batting that could have put India under more pressure.

Starts squandered as tail wags for Australia

Marnus Labuschagne made a century on Friday, but four other batsmen made more than 36 but failed to go on for Australia.

Paine (50) and Cameron Green (47) joined that group on day two as they squandered promising starts, with Lyon (24) – playing his 100th Test – and Mitchell Starc (20 not out) lifting Australia beyond 350.

Reckless Rohit hurts India

Like many in the Australia line-up, Rohit wasted another opportunity to put together a big score in Brisbane.

He looked in control before attempting to take on Lyon one too many times, and a running Starc took a good catch. The 33-year-old is one of India's more experienced players and his dismissal left the tourists at 60-2. It comes after he made scores of 26 and 52 in Sydney.

Australia and India will both make changes for the winner-takes-all-showdown in Brisbane, where a highly eventful series comes to a conclusion with the fourth Test.

The two nations are tied at 1-1 heading into the final game after India, despite being beset by injury issues, successfully batted out the final day to secure a hard-earned draw at the Sydney Cricket Ground. 

There has been little time for rest and recovery for those involved, while much of the media attention in the aftermath has surrounded the on-field behaviour of Australia's current captain, Tim Paine, and the man he replaced in the role, Steve Smith. 

Paine was fined for dissent after questioning an umpiring decision during the third Test, though it was his verbal sparring with Ravichandran Ashwin on the final day – plus a plethora of dropped catches behind the stumps – that put him in the spotlight. 

Now, though, the skipper and his side must focus on trying to secure a victory at the Gabba – a venue that holds good memories for Australia but less so India, who have failed to triumph there in six previous visits. 

The hosts will again have a new opening partnership on duty too, with Will Pucovski ruled out due to a shoulder injury after a promising Test debut. Marcus Harris will take his place at the top of the order. 

Australia are set to go with an unchanged attack despite the short turnaround - the previous game finished on Monday - meaning off-spinner Nathan Lyon will play in his 100th Test. 

India, meanwhile, have not given anything away in terms of team selection, though at least two changes will be needed to replace injured duo Ravindra Jadeja, who has had surgery on a dislocated thumb, and Hanuma Vihari.

Jasprit Bumrah is also reportedly a major doubt, potentially leaving the tourists without their leading paceman for the decider. 

"If he can play, he will play," India batting coach Vikram Rathour said of Bumrah on the eve of the game. "The injuries are still being monitored. Our medical staff is working with all the players.” 

It has been a busy trip for India's medical staff, that is for sure. Still, whoever takes the field for India will know a draw will be enough to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. 

 

LYON REACHES SPECIAL LANDMARK

Lyon will become the 13th Australian to reach a century of Tests, while he is only four away from reaching 400 wickets in the format.

"I look at the 12 other guys who have played over 100 Test matches for Australia, and they're pure legends in my eyes, not just for Cricket Australia but all around the world," he said ahead of the personal landmark. 

"I'm going to pinch myself each and every day to see my name amongst those players and be the 13th player to do so. It's pretty amazing. I've tried in the past not to look too far ahead, but I'm pretty excited about this one."

His career haul includes dismissing Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane 10 times apiece, making the India duo the batsmen he has dismissed the most in Tests.

PATCHED-UP INDIA CAN MAKE HISTORY

If India can record a victory and end Australia's 31-Test unbeaten run at the Gabba, they will secure back-to-back Test series triumphs on Australian soil for the first time.

It will be an even more impressive achievement when taking into consideration the absences. Captain Virat Kohli returned home after the first Test, while Mohammed Shami also only played the once.  Ishant Sharma, meanwhile, has not featured at all. Now, with Vihari and Jadeja sidelined, there will be a new-look middle order.

Wicketkeepers Rishabh Pant and Wriddhiman Saha could both feature; the former had his issues with the gloves in Sydney but made a counter-attacking 97 in the final innings that helped save the Test.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Australia are undefeated in their last 31 Tests in Brisbane (W24, D7). Their last defeat in such a fixture at the venue came in November 1988.
- A win for Australia in this match would secure three consecutive Test series victories - the last time they achieved such a feat was from November 2015 to February 2016.
- Pat Cummins has a bowling strike rate of 36.4 in Tests in Brisbane, the best of any player to record 500 deliveries there. His best Test innings figures came at the ground, as he claimed 6-23 against Sri Lanka in January 2019.
- Pujara has been removed four times (in six innings) by Cummins during this series, the most instances by any bowler against a batsman; scoring just 42 in response.
- Australia batsmen have been dismissed lbw on 11 occasions in the three previous Tests; India have only been out in that manner three times. All five lbw decisions at the SCG were against the hosts.

India held firm to deny Australia and secure an incredible draw in the third Test in Sydney on Monday.

Australia looked in position to take a 2-1 series lead, needing eight wickets on the final day at the SCG, but were left frustrated by a stubborn India batting line-up and costly dropped catches.

Rishabh Pant (97), Cheteshwar Pujara (77), Hanuma Vihari (23 off 161 balls) and Ravichandran Ashwin (39 off 128 balls) helped ensure India were level heading into the final Test in Brisbane starting on Friday.

The SCG pitch played few tricks on day five, and Pant even had India dreaming of an amazing win, the tourists eventually finishing at 334-5, 73 runs adrift of a victory they stopped chasing after Vihari hurt his hamstring.

Josh Hazlewood (2-39) and Nathan Lyon (2-114) made breakthroughs, but Australia were unable to do enough in a Test they looked destined to win as Tim Paine dropped three catches.

Australia landed an early blow as Lyon had Ajinkya Rahane (4) caught at short leg by Matthew Wade.

But Pant – who suffered an elbow injury on Saturday – was put down twice by Paine, on three and 56, off Lyon, and he counter-attacked superbly to put the pressure on the off-spinner.

Pujara brought up 6,000 Test runs, the 11th Indian to achieve the feat as he continued to frustrate Australia.

Pant looked capable of leading India to a shock victory before falling just short of a third Test century, caught by Pat Cummins at gully after trying to attack Lyon again.

The second new ball brought a key wicket for Australia as Hazlewood produced a wonderful delivery to bowl Pujara.

 

A pair of reviews were unable to get Ashwin, who was dropped on 15, a diving Sean Abbott – on for the injured Will Pucovski (shoulder) – unable to hold onto a tough chance.

Vihari and Ashwin, showing no intent to score, remained stoic and defended well against an increasingly desperate Australia.

Paine dropped another chance after Vihari edged a Mitchell Starc (0-66) delivery and it proved to be the final opportunity as India held on for a draw.

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.

Australia opener David Warner has been ruled out of the Boxing Day Test, while Sean Abbott will also miss the Melbourne date with India.

Warner will sit out the blockbuster clash as he continues to recover from a groin injury, which sidelined him for the opening Test in Adelaide, where Australia won by eight wickets.

The 34-year-old Warner suffered an adductor injury during the second ODI against India last month as he watched Australia humble the tourists in the day-night contest at Adelaide Oval.

Australia paceman Abbott has returned to full fitness, but he will also be absent for the second Test due to Cricket Australia's (CA) strict biosecurity protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Warner and Abbott both departed for Melbourne on Saturday as a COVID-19 outbreak moves through Sydney, though they will be unable to enter the squad's hub.

"David Warner and Sean Abbott will re-join the Australian men's Test squad ahead of the third Test against India," a CA spokesman said.

"Warner and Abbott spent time in Sydney outside the team's bio-secure hub to recover from injury. While neither player has been in a specific 'hotspot' as outlined by NSW Health, Cricket Australia's biosecurity protocols do not allow them to re-join the squad in time for the Boxing Day Test.

"Warner has not fully recovered from a groin injury suffered in the ODI Series against India and would not have been available for the second Test match, while Abbott has recovered from a calf strain sustained during Australia A's tour match against India and would have been available for selection for the Boxing Day Test.

"The pair travelled from Sydney to Melbourne to continue their rehabilitation given the changing public health situation in Sydney at the time."

Matthew Wade and Joe Burns opened the batting for Australia in the first Test against India, and the pair are in line to continue atop the order.

Wade (33) and Burns (51 not out) put on a 70-run stand as Australia embarrassed Virat Kohli's India, who were held to a record-low Test score of 36 in the second innings.

The Boxing Day matchup will be the 100th men's Test between Australia and India, just the seventh fixture in the game's history to reach a century of iterations – Australia have won 43 of their previous 99 Tests against India (D27, L28).

Steve Smith (1,431) needs just 69 runs to become the fifth Australia player to reach 1,500 Test runs against India. His batting average of 79.5 from his 22 innings is the highest of any Australian to have logged more than six innings against them.

Australia spinner Nathan Lyon requires nine more wickets to reach 400 in Test cricket – only Shane Warne (708) and Glenn McGrath (563) have taken more for Australia in the men's format.

Nathan Lyon could be set for his first international Twenty20 appearance in more than two years after being added to Australia's squad for the remainder of the series against India.

The off-spinner comes into the squad for the final two matches of the series, which India lead after Friday's 11-run victory.

With Ashton Agar injured and Cameron Green released to play for Australia A against India A starting on Sunday, Lyon was added to the squad.

The 33-year-old last played a T20 for Australia in October 2018, and he has played just twice in the shortest format, taking one wicket at 48.

However, Lyon has taken 54 wickets at 20.51 in domestic T20s.

Mitchell Swepson (1-21) and Adam Zampa (1-20) were both part of Australia's attack in the opening T20.

Australia are still waiting for the results of scans for captain Aaron Finch, who hurt his hip or glute in the series opener.

India will be without Ravindra Jadeja (concussion) for the rest of the series after his heroics with the bat in the opening game, with Shardul Thakur added to their squad.

The second game of the series is in Sydney on Sunday.

Australia spinner Nathan Lyon could not resist a lighthearted quip when asked about the prospect of an unexpected Test series against Ashes rivals England.

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc with the 2020 sporting calendar and cricket has not been spared the scheduling headache caused by the outbreak of COVID-19.

Test cricket is set to resume next month with a behind-closed-doors series between England and West Indies.

Pakistan are due to tour England for three Tests and three T20 internationals immediately after, but the confirmation of 10 positive tests for coronavirus among Misbah-ul-Haq's squad has led to concerns over those matches.

Officials said plans to play Pakistan remain on track but there have been some murmurings that Australia, who are due to feature in a rescheduled limited-overs tour of England in September, could be asked to play some red-ball cricket should the matches with Pakistan be curtailed.

Asked about that possibility, Lyon replied with a smile: "It just sounds like England want the Ashes back ASAP!"

Australia's own plans are up in the air, with uncertainty over August's home ODI series with Zimbabwe, while the T20 World Cup – which is slated to take place in the country across October and November – may yet be moved to early next year.

"I've got no idea when we're playing next or when potential tours are or anything," Lyon added.

"There's so many balls up in the air. I'm not qualified to be making any arrangements.

"We know something will come eventually. It's just about getting some really good preparation under our belt."

Lyon has another target in his sights for later in the year, namely gaining revenge on India for Australia's 2018-19 Test-series defeat on home soil.

It was the first time India had won a red-ball series in Australia and Lyon wants to make amends when Virat Kohli's side are back for four Tests, the first of which starts in December.

"You never like losing series or games of cricket for Australia," Lyon said.

"India a couple of years ago, they outplayed us. But we're looking forward to having those guys come here, it's getting up there to the pinnacle series alongside the Ashes.

"They've got a side full of superstars and it's going to be an amazing challenge this Australian summer when they get out here."

Australia spinner Nathan Lyon believes Virat Kohli would have no trouble adjusting to playing without fans in attendance but joked the India star may "try and rev up the seats".

An ODI between Australia and New Zealand was played behind closed doors in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It remains to be seen when fans will again be allowed in to watch sporting events, with Australia due to host India from October.

Kohli is renowned for his ability to feed off crowds and Lyon joked the batsman could instead turn to the seats, although he was full of praise for the 31-year-old.

"He's probably good enough to adapt to any scenario," the off-spinner told a video conference on Tuesday.

"I was actually talking to Mitch Starc the other day and we actually said if we are playing with no crowd it would be quite amazing to see Virat try and rev up the seats.

"It's going to be a little bit different, but I think Virat, he's a superstar, he'll be able to adapt to any climate that we're able to play in."

While there is plenty of uncertainty over the series, Lyon said he was excited about welcoming India, who retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in 2018-19.

"I'm just excited about the prospect of India coming out. I think India coming out here to Australia, it's up there with the biggest series alongside the Ashes," he said.

"Obviously they're an absolute powerhouse of the cricket world so to have those guys out here is going to be fantastic. Playing in front of crowds or in front of no crowds, it's out of our control.

"We've got to be supported by and follow the advice from all the amazing medical people around the world giving out all the advice so it's out of our control.

"I haven't really thought about playing in front of no crowds or massive crowds, it's just about the opportunity about playing against India again.

"Obviously they had the wood over us last time they come out here, but I feel like we're a much stronger Australian cricket side at the moment and I'm just unbelievably excited about the prospect of playing them here at home."

Australia completed a 3-0 series sweep of New Zealand after David Warner's century and another Nathan Lyon five-for helped the hosts claim a crushing 279-run win in the third Test.

Warner scored an unbeaten 111 to lead Australia to 217-2 declared in their second innings and a mammoth lead of 416 runs on day four at the SCG on Monday.

And New Zealand's horror tour in the trans-Tasman series finally came to an end after being dismissed for 136 during the final half-hour, as Matt Henry did not bat due to injury.

Ross Taylor (22) made history by becoming New Zealand's all-time leading Test runscorer, however, it was another forgettable day for the visitors as Australia spinner Lyon (5-50) finished the match with 10 wickets.

The Black Caps were reduced to 4-2 inside five overs after Mitchell Starc (3-25) tore through openers Tom Latham (1) and Tom Blundell (2), while Lyon and Pat Cummins (1-29) joined in to leave New Zealand reeling on 38-5 after tea.

Taylor was skittled by a stunning Cummins delivery in the over after surpassing Stephen Fleming for his country's record as Australia steamrolled New Zealand inside four days for the third consecutive Test.

Colin de Grandhomme (52), BJ Watling (19) and Todd Astle (17) provided some resistance but Australia showed their class to remain undefeated in their home season.

Tim Paine's side resumed on 40-0, with Warner and his under-pressure opening partner Joe Burns setting about building upon an already commanding lead of 243.

Only two wickets fell as Warner celebrated his third century of the Australian summer and 24th of his career – taking his tally to 786 runs at 131 against Pakistan and New Zealand.

Burns added 24 to his overnight score when he was trapped lbw by Astle (1-41), for 40 despite originally being given not out.

Marnus Labuschagne (59) contributed a quick-fire half-century – his seventh score above 50 in eight innings – before going out swinging to Matt Henry (1-54).

Australia's innings also featured a five-run penalty after umpire Aleem Dar ruled Labuschagne and Warner ran down the protected area of the pitch – the five runs added to New Zealand's first innings, improving it from 251 to 256.

In the final analysis, it made scant difference.

Nathan Lyon was delighted to be able to put on a show for his family and friends as the Australia bowler claimed 5-68 in the third Test against New Zealand at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

The spin bowler shrugged off a nasty thumb injury and two dropped catches as he starred with the ball, helping to skittle the Black Caps for 251 before the hosts extended their lead to 243 runs - without losing a second-innings wicket - at the end of day three.

Lyon had never posted a five-for at the SCG before and was glad to have done so in a fine display on Sunday.

"It's always special being part of the Sydney Test match and playing in front of your family and friends, and to perform in the first innings was pretty special," he said.

"There's still plenty of work to do in the second dig, but if you were rocking up today and saying we'd end up with a lead of 240 and 10 wickets in hand, we'll take that every day."

Australia's bowlers have pledged to donate $1,000AUD to the bushfire relief appeal for every wicket they take in the Test.

Discussing the devastating fires that have swept the country, Lyon added: "We're not doing it [donating money] for recognition or anything like that...we're playing a game of cricket and there's people being severely affected by fires.

"It puts cricket in perspective and it's really showing Australia's true colours. The true heroes of Australia right now are the firefighters and the volunteers.

"Everyone rallies behind someone when they're having a hard time. I'm proud to be Australian in hard times, to be honest, and we're getting around them."

Asked about his impressive recent form, Lyon suggested it was as much about the entire bowling unit as his own efforts.

"I'm fortunate to be part of the best bowling attack in the world so it's just about building pressure from both ends," he said.

"We've been able to do that over the last eight months or so. We're just getting our reward for all our hard work and preparation."

Australia piled further misery on New Zealand as Nathan Lyon's five-for helped roll the Black Caps and extend the home side's advantage on day three of the third Test.

Lyon overcame a bloodied thumb and two dropped catches to claim figures of 5-68 in Sydney, where the embattled Kiwis were dismissed for 251 on Sunday.

After skittling New Zealand late in the final session, David Warner (23 not out) and Joe Burns (16 not out) guided Australia to 40-0 and a lead of 243 runs at stumps.

New Zealand returned to the SCG at 63-0, with Tom Latham and Tom Blundell at the crease in reply to Australia's 454, however, it was another difficult morning for the tourists.

Lyon bowled Blundell before the New Zealand batsman could add to his overnight score of 34 and the Australia spinner struck again – trapping Jeet Raval (31) lbw.

Pat Cummins (3-44) joined the wicket-takers in the following over when his delivery to stand-in captain Lathan (49) was caught by Mitchell Starc as the Black Caps were 141-3 at lunch.

Debutant Glenn Phillips dug deep for New Zealand, who have tried to restore some pride having already lost the trans-Tasman series, but he had little support in the middle session.

Cummins trapped Ross Taylor (22) lbw, BJ Watling (9) was bundled over by fellow paceman Starc and Colin de Grandhomme (20) was run out prior to tea.

Phillips, who was twice dropped by Lyon, celebrated a half-century before he was bowled by Cummins, with Lyon cleaning up the tail – William Somerville (0), Neil Wagner (0) and Matt Henry (3) sent back to the pavilion.

That brought Australia out to bat again, and Warner and Burns negotiated a tricky 16-over spell to put the hosts firmly in control ahead of the penultimate day.

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.

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