AUCKLAND: New Zealand captured the crucial wicket of Matt Prior just before tea on the third day to snap a valiant England fightback in the series-deciding third Test at Eden Park on Sunday.
After England had collapsed to 72 for five, Prior led a 101-run sixth wicket stand with Joe Root before he was removed in the last over before the second new ball became available.
At tea, England were 176 for six, still 267 runs behind New Zealand’s first innings 443 with Root on 37 and Stuart Broad yet to score.
Prior had one life early in the afternoon session when he edged a full delivery from Tim Southee and was dropped by Dean Brownlie at second slip with the England score at 111.
He was then on 24 and added a further 49 runs before he was finally undone slashing at a wide delivery from Neil Wagner which he steered straight to Hamish Rutherford at point.
England, who resumed the day on 50 for two after losing Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott late on Saturday, lost three quick wickets in an early collapse to be 72 for five before Root and Prior launched their salvage mission.
Nick Compton (13), Ian Bell (17) and Jonny Bairstow (3) all went leg before wicket as they struggled to cope with the morning swing generated by Southee and Trent Boult.
Root and Prior played to stay before lunch in a session that only produced 42 runs and picked up the pace after the break in a middle session that produced 84 runs for the loss of only one wicket.
With the tail exposed and the new ball only three overs old, England require a further 68 runs with four wickets in hand to avoid the follow on.
Boult, who was used sparingly after lunch, has the best New Zealand figures of three for 48 while Southee has two for 36.
After rain disrupted the first two Tests which were drawn, the weather is forecast to remain fine in Auckland for the third and final encounter.