A magnificent stand of 121 between Brendon McCullum and BJ Watling wrested control of the second Test from England at Headingley on Sunday.
In a match which has dipped and risen with the barometer on a viciously cold and blustery day in Leeds, New Zealand ended day three on 338-6, a lead of 338 after Stuart Broad’s heroics in the morning brought the first-innings scores level.
Watling was unbeaten at the close on 100, while McCullum was adjudged lbw by the narrowest of margins after scoring a sedate 55 off 98, with just three fours and a six.
He had needed to consolidate after New Zealand lost their first two wickets for 23 and then fought to 141-4.
New Zealand came into this match needing to force a victory in order to maintain their two-year unbeaten run in Test series. They were never likely to go anything other than flat out in pursuit of that goal and they maintained a relentless pace. At the close, the run-rate was 4.5, but at once stage it was nudging 5.5.
Watling’s fifth Test hundred was the most significant individual contribution of another bristling team display, but Martin Guptill’s 70 off 72 balls and Ross Taylor’s 48 off 48 piled on the pressure.
More than 400 runs were scored in the day, which suggested that the pitch remained good for batting, but signs of variable bounce during the final session would have provided further encouragement for New Zealand.
Earlier, England lost seven wickets for 52 runs before Broad made his stand on Sunday morning.
Chasing the New Zealand total of 350, England had been 215-1, and ended the day on Saturday at 253-5 after Tim Southee removed Joe Root and Ben Stokes was undone by Trent Boult in quick order.
Southee continued his good work in the morning, sending back Ian Bell (12), Jos Buttler (10) and Moeen Ali (1) as New Zealand continued their tenacious fightback, finishing with 4-83. But Broad struck 46 from 39 balls before being bowled by Mark Henry, while Mark Wood and James Anderson offered gallant support. The last two wickets added 83 runs.
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