MELBOURNE, Dec 29 (Reuters) - Fired-up paceman James Pattinson smashed through New Zealand’s top order with three quick wickets as New Zealand’s chase of an improbable 488-run victory target got off to a disastrous start on day four of the Boxing Day test on Sunday.
Pattinson removed opener Tom Latham for eight, captain Kane Williamson for a duck and had Ross Taylor drag onto his stumps for two in the space of nine deliveries before lunch at a steamy Melbourne Cricket Ground.
New Zealand, trailing 1-0 in the series, staggered to the break at 38 for three, still 450 runs short of their target.
Recalled wicketkeeper-batsman Tom Blundell was 22 not out, with Henry Nicholls on one run.
No team has ever chased more than 332 for victory in tests at the MCG.
Australia declared their second innings closed at 168 for five after Travis Head was bowled by Neil Wagner for 28 early in the session.
Latham and Blundell then built New Zealand’s biggest opening partnership of the series with a 32-run stand before Pattinson intervened.
Latham gift-wrapped his wicket by driving needlessly at a wider delivery to nick behind to lunging Australia wicketkeeper-captain Tim Paine.
Pattinson trapped Williamson lbw in his next over and the New Zealand captain burned a referral trying to overhaul Marais Erasmus’s decision.
Four balls later, Ross Taylor was out chopping onto his stumps with a clumsy attempted cut shot.
Reporting by Ian Ransom; editing by Richard Pullin