Rain gives Kiwis hope but Oz still on top

Australia were frustrated by the weather on the fourth day of the first Test against New Zealand at the Gabba but are still favourites to beat the Black Caps after reducing them to 142 for three at stumps, still needing seven wickets on the final day.

The visitors will require a monumental effort from their remaining batsmen if they want to salvage anything from the game, especially since their best player, Kane Williamson, was out for 59 just before the rain came down.

Ross Taylor (20*) and captain Brendon McCullum (4*) will resume in the morning as the Black Caps take up the battle with the Aussie bowlers, but the weather might play apart on the final day as well.

Australia skipper Steve Smith declared on his team's overnight score of 264 for four, leaving New Zealand an improbable score of 504 runs to chase in two days.

The Black Caps' openers, Martin Guptill and Tom Latham, dug in manfully and put on 44 in 22 overs before the left-handed Latham was trapped in front by a fast yorker from Mitchell Starc for 29.

Guptill and Williamson put on 54 for the second wicket until the former edged offspinner Nathan Lyon to Smith at first slip to go for 23 in 133 balls.

Williamson looked as if he was batting on a different pitch to his teammates as he raced to 50 off just 55 balls and following his 140 in the first innings he will be secure in the knowledge that he did everything he could for his country, win or lose.

The 25 year-old Williamson however was out when Lyon got him out lbw when he missed a straight forward pull shot, and shortly thereafter the players went off for tea and never returned.

Lyon had figures of two for 33 in 11 overs and one suspects that he will be the key on day five while Starc took one for 24 in 13 overs.

Australia scored a mammoth 556 for four declared in their first innings while the Kiwis replied with 317 all out to concede a 239 run lead.