SYDNEY        -          Marnus Labuschange extended his golden run this Australian summer, posting his maiden double century, breaking a few records on the way and powering Australia to 454 on the second day of the third and final Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday.

At stumps, the home side were ahead by 391 runs, with New Zealand openers Tom Latham and Tom Blundell surviving to 63-0 in 29 overs. Resuming at 130 Labuschagne looked flawless for the most part, except in the very late stages of his 215. He signalled his intent early in the day by advancing down the track to William Somerville and lofting him to deep mid-wicket for a four. Somerville bowled Matthew Wade in that same over as the left-hander failed to connect the sweep shot to fall without adding to his overnight 22. Travis Head fell for a scratchy 10 when he tried to cut one from too close to the body, giving Matt Henry his only wicket of the innings. But Labuschagne continued to score freely at the other end, untroubled by the variable bounce or the slight turn in the pitch.

When he swept Somerville to deep square leg in the 99th over, he became the first player to make four 140-plus scores in an Australian season, a record that highlights how consistently excellent he has been across the matches against Pakistan and New Zealand. Having failed to convert any of those previous efforts into a double hundred, he held his nerve to get to the milestone, even if the manner in which he got there was edgy. He nicked a defensive shot off a straightener from Colin de Grandhomme to reach the mark. He was dismissed soon after, for 215, when he got a leading edge back to leg-spinner Todd Astle when trying to flick him over mid-wicket. Even after his dismissal, his average was 63.63, thus putting him second on the all-time list for best averages behind only Don Bradman for anyone who has played at least 20 innings, marginally ahead of teammate Steve Smith's 62.84.

While Marnus was the star of the show, the day wasn't all bad for New Zealand, the bowlers taking the last five Australian wickets for 44 runs. Neil Wagner was the pick of the bowlers, finishing with 3-66 from 33.1 overs, but de Grandhomme wasn't too far behind, taking 3-78, including the key wickets of Smith on the first day and captain Tim Paine on Saturday.

The openers built on that fine closing act, batting out the entire final session, keeping the home team's hungry bowlers from making an early breakthrough as they have done all series until this point. The Australian quicks and off-spinner Nathan Lyon were characteristically accurate and kept asking questions of Latham and Blundell, but the duo seemed to have the answers. There were a few nervy moments, especially for Blundell as the bowlers beat the edge. On one occasion, Australia thought they had him as he drove at a wide one outside off from Pat Cummins, but the review went in vain as replays showed no edge. Blundell got a thick outside edge on his drive the very next ball, but he put those behind him to start looking a lot more fluent. He finished with 34*, while Latham had 26* to his name.