Joe Burns has seen the best and worst of his game in the last fortnight, but on Sunday he reached a career high, as Australia marched closer to the top of world cricket.
Smith off canvas for century
Skipper Steve Smith and Joe Burns both score centuries to leave the tourists just seven runs behind.
The Queenslander has booked himself a ticket for Australia's winter tour of Sri Lanka after hitting a chanceless 170 that has placed the visitors in a commanding position in the second Test in Christchurch.
It has also vindicated the faith shown by selectors at the start of the summer when they backed him instead of uncapped youngster Cam Bancroft.
That Burns has passed arguably the toughest examination of his short career is another sign of the growing health of Australia's batting stocks, which took a massive hit during the Ashes.
Burns and Smith, who recovered from a nasty blow to his helmet to hit his 14th Test century, piled on 289 runs for the third wicket, erasing the previous third-wicket best in Trans-Tasman series of 264 set in 1974 by Ian and Greg Chappell.
The only cross against the pair was they did not see out the day, falling in identical fashion just minutes apart, but that is being picky as they have put Australia one strong session away from taking the match out of New Zealand's reach.
Australia will start the third day on 4/363, trailing by just seven runs. The late dismissals of Burns and Smith have left the door ajar for the Black Caps, but Australia still have plenty of plenty of batting left to capitalise on a Hagley Oval pitch that has morphed from a greentop into a batsman's paradise.
Batting was not easy when Burns padded up on the first evening and again on the second morning. It was far from the ideal scenario for a man coming off a duck and even worse net form.
"The first net I had [in New Zealand] was probably the worst net I've ever had, comfortably," Burns, who had an incorrect caught behind call overturned on 35, said.
"I played and missed about 95 per cent of the balls I tried to hit. I don't know if it was the nature of the wicket, probably just rust."
The opener was one of the last to leave training on match eve and his industry has now been handsomely rewarded in the form of an innings he rates as the best of his career.
This was clearly the most accomplished of his three Test tons, coming with Australia behind the game and with the pitch still offering encouragement to the bowlers.
"For me my best because of the context of the game, the fact it was away from home," Burns said of his first ton on foreign soil.
"The first one I got in Brisbane in front of friends and family will be the most satisfying for the rest of my career, this one's technically my best because of the way I tried to play and I was able to do it for long periods."
Having a player, Shaun Marsh, who made 182 in his last Test knock waiting in the wings is a plus for Australian cricket, although it cannot make a newcomer like Burns feel comfortable about his job security
Burns' approach was simple - play straight and leave well. Whereas McCullum used the shock and awe approach, Burns was happy playing the waiting game, so too his skipper.
The Kiwis rolled the dice and struck paydirt on the first day, but are now very much in the red and with a weak hand to play. With no juice left in the deck, the Black Caps' bold move of picking a an all-pace attack has proven to be the wrong call.
"So we were aware that if we kept them out in the field, they'd just naturally get tired without a spinner to come on from one end," Burns said.
"I mean we kept talking about it all day, that we would just try to cook them for as long as possible."