AUCKLAND (Reuters) - England’s bowlers dragged their side back into the third and deciding test against New Zealand as they reduced the hosts to 35 for three in their second innings at the close of play on the third day at Eden Park on Sunday.
New Zealand had dismissed England for 204 after tea on the back of Trent Boult’s first five-wicket haul but chose not to enforce the follow on after they held a lead of 239 runs after making 443 in their first innings.
Stuart Broad and James Anderson then ripped the top off New Zealand’s batting, reducing them to 8-3, before Peter Fulton (14) and Dean Brownlie (13) blunted the attack, settled the innings and increased the lead to 274 runs.
The first two tests resulted in rain-effected draws and the hosts had been looking to score at least close to 200 in their second innings to give themselves a strong chance of their first series win over England since 1999.
Broad, however, removed Hamish Rutherford for a third ball duck, Anderson forced Kane Williamson to chop on for one before Broad had Ross Taylor trapped in front for three to swing the match back on a more even keel.
Seven wickets actually fell in Sunday’s final session after the visitors had resumed after tea on 176 for six before Boult had Broad caught for 16, Steven Finn for a duck and Anderson for four to give him career-best figures of six for 68.
Tim Southee bowled Joe Root for 45 to end the innings.
”It was a pretty cool feeling out there in the middle when I got the fifth one so obviously to get six was pretty special,“ Boult told reporters. ”There is a little bit of swing out there which is pretty nice.
“Coming out here we knew that it was going to swing and we put the ball in the right areas for long enough and picked up the rewards.”
Matt Prior and Root had earlier combined for a 101-run partnership to rebuild England’s innings but the wicketkeeper fell just before tea to hand the advantage back to New Zealand.
Prior was dismissed for 73 some 15 minutes before the break when he hammered the ball straight to Rutherford off Neil Wagner.
Until that point, New Zealand had been ruing dropping the aggressive wicketkeeper when he was on 24 earlier in the session.
The 31-year-old Prior got a thick edge to a Southee delivery only for Dean Brownlie to drop the low chance to his right.
Brownlie got both hands to the ball but it spilled clear as his elbows hit the ground and Southee stood mid pitch with his hands on his hips glaring at his team mate.
Root and Prior had come together with England on 72 for five before lunch after Southee and Boult had put New Zealand into a strong position after dismissing Nick Compton (13), Ian Bell (17) and Jonny Bairstow (three), all lbw, in the first session.
”We came in this morning with a plan, but we didn’t bat well,“ England wicketkeeper Matt Prior said. ”Credit to the New Zealand bowlers, they bowled in good areas.
“I know Trent ended up with the most wickets but Tim Southee bowled a couple of good spells and hats off to them.”
Editing by Patrick Johnston