WELLINGTON, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Mitchell Santner scored his third test half century as New Zealand continued to frustrate England and built their lead to 99 runs by lunch on the fourth day of the first test at Bay Oval on Sunday.
The hosts were 452-6 at the break with Santner on 55 and BJ Watling on his highest test score of 148 after the pair went relatively unchallenged through a slow first session in Mt. Maunganui when they scored just 58 runs.
Santner, who was on 31 not out overnight, again had trouble against the short-pitched ball but gamely took delivery after delivery on the body, gloves and helmet to squeeze a single off Sam Curran to reach his half century from 170 balls.
Both Santner and Watling were circumspect after resuming on 394-6 on Sunday as they re-established themselves.
Neither took any real chances as they looked to build New Zealand’s lead to close to 200 and will then hope to bowl England out on a pitch that is still in relatively good condition but has been difficult to score from.
Watling had resurrected New Zealand’s innings with his eighth test century and a succession of solid partnerships after he arrived at the crease with the hosts 127-4 and in danger of conceding a first innings deficit to England, who scored 353.
He combined in a 70-run partnership with Henry Nicholls, 119 with Colin de Grandhomme, and then an unbeaten 136 runs with Santner.
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Daniel Wallis