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Australia closing in on series sweep against New Zealand

SYDNEY (AP) — David Warner scored an unbeaten century as Australia built a big lead, before the home team's bowlers struck to have New Zealand in disarray at 27-4 at tea on the fourth day the third test.

After Australia declared its second innings on Monday at 217-2, with a lead of 416 runs, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon each took two wickets to have New Zealand in serious trouble at the Sydney Cricket Ground and in a struggle to at least take the match into its fifth day. With four sessions remaining, Australia is pushing hard for a 3-0 series sweep.

Starc (2-8) had opener Tom Blundell (2) caught by a diving Lyon at point, before trapping captain Tom Latham (1) LBW in his next over to have the tourists at 4-2.

Lyon (2-4) was then bought into the attack and had Jeet Raval and test rookie Wayne Phillips caught behind by Tim Paine in consecutive wicket maidens just before tea.

Earlier, Warner (111 not out) was at his counterpunching best in bringing up his 24th test hundred and fifth at the SCG shortly after lunch. He celebrated with his customary leap, before kissing the badge on his helmet and raising both arms to an appreciative SCG crowd.

Labuschagne (59), with an Australian record 895 runs in five tests this southern summer, continued to accumulate quickly and reached his half century off 64 balls with four boundaries before holing out in the deep off Matt Henry, prompting the declaration by Paine.

New Zealand received a rare bonus this series with Australia receiving a five-run penalty for running on the pitch late in its innings. The decision by umpire Aleem Dar that Warner and Labuschagne were not veering off the pitch quickly enough while running between wickets seemed harsh on the hosts. The five runs were subtracted from the victory target for New Zealand which had stood at 421.

Australia resumed Monday at 40 without loss, with Warner and Joe Burns adding 67 runs in 13 overs before legspinner Todd Astle made the breakthrough trapping Burns LBW for 40.

After three scores in the 40s this series, Warner was in a typical upbeat mood as he completed his 31st test half-century off 82 balls with four boundaries.

The hosts set up its dominant position on the back of its first innings of 454, led by Labuschagne’s maiden double century and fourth hundred in five matches this summer, before Lyon took his first five-wicket haul at the SCG to bowl New Zealand out for 251.

Australia won the first two tests at Perth and Melbourne.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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