A gripping final two days of the third and deciding cricket test looms in Auckland after New Zealand's batsmen got the late wobbles against a fired-up England pace attack.
New Zealand enter day four still in charge, but their dominant position eased late on the third day at Eden Park when wickets tumbled again and paceman Trent Boult took a career-best 6-68. The hosts went to stumps on 35-3, leading England by 274 after home skipper Brendon McCullum chose not to enforce the follow-on.
Opener Peter Fulton, fresh from his maiden test century on Friday, was unbeaten on 14 with Dean Brownlie on 13 as the pair averted any further calamity in 23 overs before the close.
It all added up to 22 wickets falling in the past two days after New Zealand racked up 250-1 on day one.
With a first innings lead of 239, New Zealand needed a safe start then quick runs to set England a tough target of 400-plus and plenty of time to dismiss them again.
Suddenly they were 8-3 and the familiar third innings jitters were on.
Stuart Broad (2-7) enticed a looping edge from Hamish Rutherford (0), Kane Williamson (1) couldn't cover one from James Anderson (1-11) and chopped on from the bottom edge, and Ross Taylor (3) was trapped in front by Broad. Taylor challenged via the decision review system but never looked a chance of getting it overturned.
McCullum opted to bat again despite England falling short of the follow-on target. It offered the home bowlers some welcome rest as they prepare to chase New Zealand's first series win over England in 14 years.
Boult's haul was the eighth-best by a New Zealand bowler against England. The left-armer's previous best from 12 tests was 4-42 against Sri Lanka in Colombo in November which was New Zealand's most recent test victory.
He started the ball rolling in England's innings yesterday when he knocked over the big wickets of Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott to reduce them to 50-2 at stumps.
And he carried on this morning as he and the rejuvenated Tim Southee (3-44) took three wickets between them in the first hour as England slumped to 72-5.
Boult was aggressive and got the ball to swing prodigiously throughout his 25 overs at the bowling crease.
After Neil Wagner removed Matt Prior for the top score of 73 before tea, Boult took three wickets in succession after the interval then Southee finished the job by bowling Joe Root for 45.
Boult had Stuart Broad caught at short cover, then nicked out Steven Finn and James Anderson with the second new ball as England lost their last five wickets for 31.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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