Black Caps look good to win test series

MARK GEENTY
Last updated 18:13 25/03/2013
Third Test: New Zealand v England
JOHN SELKIRK/Fairfax NZ Zoom
Frustrated Black Caps show their emotions as test victory slips away.

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A double strike from the unlikely figure of part-time spinner Kane Williamson has New Zealand as hot favourites to wrap up a memorable test series victory over England in Auckland.

Williamson claimed the big wicket of captain Alastair Cook for 43 before night watchman Steven Finn was also removed by a reflex catch in close by Tim Southee just before stumps.

It left England, the world's No 2 side, reeling at 90-4 in their second innings, chasing a mammoth 481 to win in the third and deciding test.

New Zealand have 90 overs tomorrow amid a fine forecast to claim the final six wickets at Eden Park and nail their first series victory over England in 14 years.

Ian Bell was unbeaten on eight off 89 balls and will be joined by youngster Joe Root tomorrow, with the struggling Jonny Bairstow to follow.

With the second new ball 28 overs away, New Zealand will be hugely confident of finishing the job after Williamson's late heroics which left him with figures of 2-5 off 6.1 overs.

New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum declared midway through the afternoon session to leave England 143 overs to score 481. Just four teams have successfully chased over 400 to win a test. The record highest chase is the West Indies' 418-7 to beat Australia in Antigua in 2003.

Southee tasted immediate success when he nicked out Nick Compton with his third delivery of the innings. He should have snared Cook early on, too, but gloveman BJ Watling couldn't quite snaffle a low one-handed dive to his left with the skipper on one.

The ball didn't swing as much, second time around, for New Zealand's pace duo Southee and Trent Boult, and it was soon Neil Wagner and spinner Bruce Martin tasked with breaking the key Cook-Jonathan Trott partnership.

Trott played freely for 37 but Wagner, bowling around the wicket and getting some slight movement away, enticed a false drive and Watling had his second catch.

It looked as if Cook would bat through the day after stonewalling for three hours for 43. But Williamson got one to turn and Cook's edge was well caught by Dean Brownlie at second slip.

New Zealand crowded all their fielders around the batsmen and it worked as Finn drove at Williamson and Southee juggled then claimed an excellent catch at silly mid off.

Earlier, McCullum blazed 67 not out off 53 balls before declaring on 241-6, 45 minutes after lunch on day four.

Opener Peter Fulton was the star of the morning, becoming the fourth New Zealand batsman to score back-to-back centuries in a test match.

The 1.98m Canterbury batsman clubbed England paceman Stuart Broad over the sightscreen at the northern end for six and allowed himself a jubilant fist pump as he reached the milestone off 162 balls. He departed soon afterwards for 110, having been dropped on 31 by James Anderson at short cover.

Only three other New Zealand batsmen have scored back-to-back centuries in a test. Andrew Jones was the most recent, against Sri Lanka in Hamilton in 1991. Geoff Howarth, against England at Auckland in 1978, and Glenn Turner, against Australia at Christchurch in 1974 were the others.

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England's bowlers were flat after a sharp start when they reduced New Zealand to 8-3.

Spinner Monty Panesar got the treatment and ended with 2-53 off 9.2 overs while Stuart Broad took 2-54.

- Stuff

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