Black Caps' have fate in their own hands

20:06, Mar 24 2013
Third test: NZ v England
New Zealand's Peter Fulton on day one of the third cricket test against England.
Third test: NZ v England
New Zealand's Hamish Rutherford avoids a ball in the face.
Third test: NZ v England
New Zealand's Hamish Rutherford plays a ball against England.
Third test: NZ v England
Reece Walters, age 14, hands New Zealand's captain Brendon McCullum the coin for the toss.
English players celebrate taking Hamish Rutherford's wicket.
English players celebrate taking Hamish Rutherford's wicket.
Peter Fulton
Peter Fulton makes a run past England's James Anderson.
Third test: NZ v England
England's Monty Panesar bowls on day one of the third cricket test.
Peter Fulton
Peter Fulton is congratulated by Kane Williamson on scoring a century.
Third test: NZ v England
Ross Taylor slips one towards the boundary during his short innings on day two.
Third test: NZ v England
England celebrate the wicket of Kane Williamson, out for 91.
Third test: NZ v England
Brendon McCullum plays a shot on day two of the third and final test.
Tim Southee
Tim Southee plays a shot against England on day two of the third test.
NZ vs England, 3rd test
England captain Alastair Cook congratulates Steven Finn on the wicket of Tim Southee.
Black Caps
New Zealand's Trent Boult appeals lbw for England's Jonathan Trott.
Third test: New Zealand vs England
New Zealand's captain Brendon McCullum (right) reacts on day two of the third cricket test match.
NZ vs England, 3rd test
England's Jonathan Trott and Nick Compton await an appeal decision.
Third test: NZ v England
Tim Southee celebrates the wicket of Ian Bell.
Third test: NZ v England
Jonny Bairstow walks off after being dismissed LBW by Trent Boult.
Third test: NZ v England
Trent Boult in action on day three.
kane out
Kane Williamson heads back to the dressing room on the third day.
Third test New Zealand v England
Dean Brownlie ducks underneath a bouncer.
Peter Fulton
Peter Fulton
Peter Fulton
Peter Fulton brings up his second century of the test.
Tim Southee
Tim Southee takes the wicket of Nick Compton.
New Zealand v England third test
New Zealand celebrate after taking the wicket of Alastair Cook.
Tim Southee
Tim Southee is the centre of attention after taking a catch close in to dismiss england batsman Steven Finn.
Tim Southee
Tim Southee is the centre of attention after taking a catch close in to dismiss england batsman Steven Finn.
Black Caps v England
Kane Williamson plays a pull shot on day four.
Peter Fulton
Peter Fulton is congratulated by Kane Williamson after scoring 100.
New Zealand v England third test gallery
Joe Root plays a shot as Brendon McCullum looks on.
England v New Zealand third test gallery
Joe Root plays a pull shot as New Zealand wicketkeeper BJ Watling looks on.
New Zealand v England gallery
Ross Taylor and BJ Watling celebrate the wicket of Jonny Bairstow.
NZ vs England 1
England batsman Matt Prior avoiding a short ball that came close to hitting the wicket.
NZ vs England 2
New Zealand's Bruce Martin misses a difficult catch off Matt Prior.
NZ vs England 3
Tim Southee reacts to getting the decision from the umpire for an LBW against Matt Prior. It was then over-ruled by the third umpire.
NZ vs England 4
New Zealand's Neil Wagner celebrates the wicket of Ian Bell just before tea.
NZ vs England
New Zealand's Neil Wagner, centre, and his Black Cap teammates celebrate Wagner's wicket of Ian Bell, top left.
Third Test: New Zealand v England
Frustrated Black Caps show their emotions as test victory slips away.

Advantage, New Zealand. On moving day in the third test against England, they charged into position and despite some late speed wobbles remain favourites to clinch a scarcely believable series victory over the world's No 2 team.

It's no done deal against a team of world-class scrappers, but New Zealand's chances hold more appeal than the visitors' with two days to play at Eden Park. And with two more days of fine weather forecast, a result seems likely to wrap up a dour but see-sawing series where the hosts have admirably punched above their weight.

Teetering at 35-3 in their second innings, New Zealand are 274 in front and with a solid first hour then some Brendon McCullum swipes, a chase of 400-plus should be mighty difficult. Especially if the ball keeps swinging for Trent Boult and Tim Southee and nipping variably off the hard, dry surface.

Twenty-two wickets tumbled over the weekend after New Zealand racked up 250-1 on day one as Eden Park's reputation for producing cracking test matches continued, seven years on from the previous one.

Boult, New Zealand's star with a career-best 6-68 in England's poor first innings of 204, was excited about the "up and down" nature of the drop-in pitch. Captain McCullum didn't enforce the follow-on despite England trailing by 239. Few captains do these days and Alastair Cook had his hand forced by impending rain in Wellington. 

McCullum's decision was backed by the bowlers who put their feet up before one final push for New Zealand's first series win over England in 14 years.

"We've bowled a lot of overs. To get a rest in where we could and then use these next two days as best we could was crucial," Boult said.

"We just need to press on tomorrow. I don't think 30-3 was in the plan but I think to have a 280-run lead is a pretty good position to be in."

Still, the familiar third innings collapse had the New Zealanders in the crowd of a tick over 10,000 drawing breath sharply. New Zealand's last big chance to beat England in a test, in Manchester in 2008, saw them lose by six wickets after leading by 179 on the first innings. They collapsed for 114 in their second dig and it was game over.

At 8-3 yesterday, with Stuart Broad breathing fire and Hamish Rutherford, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor back in the shed, it was hide behind the couch material. 

Opener Peter Fulton, backing up from his maiden test century, provided the steady hand and resumes battle tomorrow with Dean Brownlie needing to push the pace if there's no early calamity. 

Gloveman and vice-captain Matt Prior topscored with a counter-attacking 73, either side of a slump to 72-5, then a loss of their last five wickets for 31.

"We didn't bat well and credit to the New Zealand bowlers, they bowled in good areas. Trent ended up with the most wickets but Tim Southee bowled a couple of good spells and hats off to them," Prior said.

England were behind the eight-ball, in Prior's words, but their pacemen gave them hope.

"We're now in a position where we need a bit of luck and a lot of skill, but if we come in tomorrow morning and get early wickets, who knows, it could still be a good day. We're going to have to bat a lot better but we can chase these runs."

In the cavernous rugby stadium on another fine, still day, the ball swung. It hadn't hooped as much for New Zealand's bowlers since their test win over Sri Lanka in Colombo in November, and they relished it.

Southee (3-44) needed a big performance and he followed Boult's lead. Having bowled too wide on Saturday he mixed his stock outswinger with some quicker ones attacking the stumps. He trapped Nick Compton and Ian Bell in front in a magical first hour for the hosts.

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Black Caps
GOOD DAY AT THE OFFICE: Tim Southee of New Zealand celebrates dismissing Joe Root of England

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