Black Caps fall one wicket short of victory
A day of huge expectation for New Zealand ended in agony as England's last pair Matt Prior and Monty Panesar batted out a draw in the third cricket test in Auckland to leave the series deadlocked 0-0.
Prior completed a magnificent rearguard action to be unbeaten on 110 while batting bunny Panesar survived five deliveries to be two not out at Eden Park. New Zealand's heads bowed, having been hot favourites at the start of the day and within touching distance of their first series win over England in 14 years.
Prior blocked out the final ball of the 143-over innings from Trent Boult then raised his arms in triumph before a jubilant hug with Panesar.
England ended on 315-9, chasing an unlikely 481 to win.
A gripping test match, which New Zealand dominated for the most part, seesawed in a pulsating final day before a crowd of 6754.
Part-time spinner Kane Williamson, who'd claimed the big wicket of Alastair Cook on the fourth evening, looked to have hauled a win from the fire for New Zealand.
Recalled to bowl the fourth-last over, Williamson nicked out Stuart Broad and James Anderson in the space of three deliveries. It left Panesar and Prior to block out 19 deliveries to grab a draw as Williamson (4-44) and Boult (1-55) couldn't get the vital final breakthrough.
Prior faced 182 balls and hit 20 boundaries in his knock as he rode his luck. Broad was an able foil as he presented a dead bat and broke the world record for the longest time on nought.
He took 103 minutes to get off the mark, beating New Zealand tailender Geoff Allott's previous mark of 101 minutes on the same ground against South Africa in 1999. Broad was eventually dismissed for six, in 137 minutes off 77 balls.
There was added pain for home skipper Brendon McCullum who strained a hamstring while diving in the field and was barely able to walk for the final two sessions.
New Zealand rued some poor catching, some bad luck and the correct use of the decision review system.
Ian Bell, on 39, was dropped at fourth slip by Dean Brownlie off the bowling of Boult, in the third over with the second new ball. It was a catchable waist-high chance and Bell rubbed salt into the wound, going on to score 75 in 353 minutes off 271 balls.
There were two missed chances in three balls in that Boult over when Williamson put down Jonny Bairstow, on two, in the gully.
Bairstow didn't punish New Zealand as much, adding just four more runs before he was nicked out by Tim Southee.
The second new ball looked to have done the trick when Boult struck with his first delivery, trapping Joe Root lbw for 29.
When Bairstow departed it was 159-6, then Bell and Prior added 78 for the seventh wicket.
Prior had some luck and was given out lbw for 16 off Southee's bowling. Prior challenged umpire Rod Tucker's decision and replays showed an inside edge.
Then on 28, Prior was surprised by a Neil Wagner bouncer which looped off the bat handle and glanced the stumps twice but didn't dislodge the bails.
When Bell was removed by Wagner, nicking out to Southee at third slip, England were 237-7 and it looked on again for the hosts.
The teams will reconvene for the return series in England in May which begins with two tests.
THE NEAR MISSES
153-5: Ian Bell (39) dropped by Dean Brownlie (82.1 overs)
154-5: Jonny Bairstow (2) dropped by Kane Williamson (82.3)
181-6: Matt Prior (10) given not out, caught behind. New Zealand DRS review unsuccessful (91.1)
189-6: Prior (16) given out lbw to Tim Southee. England DRS review successful (93.5)
207-6: Prior (28) evades a short ball from Wagner which hits bat handle and loops up, glances the stumps twice but doesn’t remove bails (99.6)
259-7: Stuart Broad (0) given out lbw to Trent Boult. England DRS review successful.
265-7: Prior (73) flays at Southee and edges just past his stumps for four (123.1)
295-7: Broad (2) given not out, lbw to Boult. New Zealand's final DRS review unsuccessful (136.4)