All results remain possible going into the final day of the second Test as England took a semblance of a grip on proceedings on what was a thrilling fourth day of action at Trent Bridge (Draw 20/21, England 9/5, New Zealand 4/1 – Match Betting).
England may have surrendered a first-innings lead but they impressed with the ball in New Zealand’s second effort and, helped by a couple of run outs, reduced the tourists to 224-7 at stumps, with Tom Latham’s men leading by 238 runs with just three second-innings wickets remaining going into the final day.
England had started the day on 473-5 with Joe Root resuming on 163, with his side still trailing by 80 runs, and he showed intent from the off, reverse-scooping Tim Southee for six.
Although he was dismissed soon after for a magnificent 176, Ben Foakes continued the aggression and passed the half-century mark only to be run out for 56 soon after as England threatened to throw away a possible advantage.
Trent Boult clean bowled Matthew Potts (3) to finish with figures of 5-106 before Michael Bracewell (3-62) had James Anderson stumped to secure his side a 14-run first-innings lead as England were all out for 539.
Despite that slender advantage, there was pressure on the New Zealand line-up as the third innings of the match would determine how the rest of the game would play out, and Anderson removed Latham in the very first over for what was his 650th wicket in Test cricket.
Will Young (56) and Devon Conway (52) looked to be taking the game away from the hosts with a relatively untroubled century partnership but they fell in quick succession, either side of Henry Nicholls (three), and Ben Stokes’ men were sniffing blood with the tourists at 131-4.
Tom Blundell looked to have steadied the ship, along with Daryl Mitchell (6/5 – to not score a 50), but he fell into Stuart Broad’s bouncer trap to go for 24 before Bracewell’s aggression quickly got the better of him as he went for one big shot too many, holing out off the bowling of Potts for a 17-ball 25.
Mitchell then sold Tim Southee (0) down the river by sending him back after initially calling for a second run to give England their seventh wicket.
The Black Caps managed to at least reach the close without further damage and are certainly not out of this game as they have a 238-run lead with first-innings centurion Mitchell still at the crease on 32.
The key on the final day will start with how quickly England can take the final three wickets and then whether their batters really have turned a corner, with a realistic target to chase down.
For New Zealand, a lot may depend on how many runs Mitchell can eke out with the tail and then whether their attack, possibly without Kyle Jamieson, can take the necessary wickets.