Black Caps in control but batsmen wobble

Frustrated Black Caps show their emotions as test victory slips away.
Frustrated Black Caps show their emotions as test victory slips away.
Ross Taylor and BJ Watling celebrate the wicket of Jonny Bairstow.
Ross Taylor and BJ Watling celebrate the wicket of Jonny Bairstow.
Joe Root plays a pull shot as New Zealand wicketkeeper BJ Watling looks on.
Joe Root plays a pull shot as New Zealand wicketkeeper BJ Watling looks on.
Joe Root plays a shot as Brendon McCullum looks on.
Joe Root plays a shot as Brendon McCullum looks on.
Tim Southee is the centre of attention after taking a catch close in to dismiss england batsman Steven Finn.
Tim Southee is the centre of attention after taking a catch close in to dismiss england batsman Steven Finn.
Tim Southee is the centre of attention after taking a catch close in to dismiss england batsman Steven Finn.
Tim Southee is the centre of attention after taking a catch close in to dismiss england batsman Steven Finn.
Tim Southee takes the wicket of Nick Compton.
Tim Southee takes the wicket of Nick Compton.
Peter Fulton is congratulated by Kane Williamson after scoring 100.
Peter Fulton is congratulated by Kane Williamson after scoring 100.
Peter Fulton brings up his second century of the test.
Peter Fulton brings up his second century of the test.
Kane Williamson plays a pull shot on day four.
Kane Williamson plays a pull shot on day four.
Dean Brownlie ducks underneath a bouncer.
Dean Brownlie ducks underneath a bouncer.
Kane Williamson heads back to the dressing room on the third day.
Kane Williamson heads back to the dressing room on the third day.
Tim Southee celebrates the wicket of Ian Bell.
Tim Southee celebrates the wicket of Ian Bell.
Jonny Bairstow walks off after being dismissed LBW by Trent Boult.
Jonny Bairstow walks off after being dismissed LBW by Trent Boult.
Trent Boult in action on day three.
Trent Boult in action on day three.
New Zealand's Trent Boult appeals lbw for England's Jonathan Trott.
New Zealand's Trent Boult appeals lbw for England's Jonathan Trott.
England's Jonathan Trott and Nick Compton await an appeal decision.
England's Jonathan Trott and Nick Compton await an appeal decision.
New Zealand's captain Brendon McCullum (right) reacts on day two of the third cricket test match.
New Zealand's captain Brendon McCullum (right) reacts on day two of the third cricket test match.
England captain Alastair Cook congratulates Steven Finn on the wicket of Tim Southee.
England captain Alastair Cook congratulates Steven Finn on the wicket of Tim Southee.
Tim Southee plays a shot against England on day two of the third test.
Tim Southee plays a shot against England on day two of the third test.
Brendon McCullum plays a shot on day two of the third and final test.
Brendon McCullum plays a shot on day two of the third and final test.
Ross Taylor slips one towards the boundary during his short innings on day two.
Ross Taylor slips one towards the boundary during his short innings on day two.
England celebrate the wicket of Kane Williamson, out for 91.
England celebrate the wicket of Kane Williamson, out for 91.
Peter Fulton is congratulated by Kane Williamson on scoring a century.
Peter Fulton is congratulated by Kane Williamson on scoring a century.
Peter Fulton makes a run past England's James Anderson.
Peter Fulton makes a run past England's James Anderson.
England's Monty Panesar bowls on day one of the third cricket test.
England's Monty Panesar bowls on day one of the third cricket test.
English players celebrate taking Hamish Rutherford's wicket.
English players celebrate taking Hamish Rutherford's wicket.
New Zealand's Hamish Rutherford plays a ball against England.
New Zealand's Hamish Rutherford plays a ball against England.
New Zealand's Hamish Rutherford avoids a ball in the face.
New Zealand's Hamish Rutherford avoids a ball in the face.
New Zealand's Peter Fulton on day one of the third cricket test against England.
New Zealand's Peter Fulton on day one of the third cricket test against England.
Reece Walters, age 14, hands New Zealand's captain Brendon McCullum the coin for the toss.
Reece Walters, age 14, hands New Zealand's captain Brendon McCullum the coin for the toss.

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.

WICKET: Trent Boult celebrates the wicket of Jonathan Bairstow early on day three.
WICKET: Trent Boult celebrates the wicket of Jonathan Bairstow early on day three.

Stuff