In a hope to make the second Test a worthy fightback, Joe Root and Rory Burns recorded centuries. However, despite the feat, England expressed disappointment as day three concluded with the tourists reaching 269 for five at stumps and still trailing New Zealand by 106.
England skipper Root registered an unbeaten 114 while Burns rode his luck to post 101 to take the visitors to 201 for two in Hamilton on Sunday (December 1).
“I enjoyed the fact I got it (hundred) but at the same time disappointed me and Rooty couldn’t stretch our partnership and get us deeper into the game. We’re disappointed to lose a couple of wickets at the back end as well,” Burn said.
Despite their good show with the bat, England after losing late wickets against New Zealand feels like the match is slipping away from their hands.
With only five wickets remaining and 16 overs washed out by rain in the final session, the vision of Root and Co. of building a healthy lead was rapidly fading.
Following the run out of Burns, England lost quick wickets of Ben Stokes and Zak Crawley, making the game take a u-turn in favour of the Black Caps.
“The run out got us going,” said Tim Southee who accounted for Stokes, adding that New Zealand never gave up hope despite the 63 overs it took to break the Root-Burns partnership.
“We hung in there for long enough and we were able to get those rewards late in the day for all the toil we put in. If things aren’t happening you keep on trying,” he said.
With Root and Burns putting on 177 for the third wicket, England found the “bat-long” partnership they had been searching for in their attempt to follow the same recipe New Zealand used to win the first Test.
But following the dismissal of Burns, Ben Stokes was gone for 26 while Zak Crawley made one on debut.
Root was under added pressure to not only guide England to a position of strength but also to end his own run dearth amid suggestions the pressure of captaincy was affecting his form.
To that end, he was in no mood to take risks as he faced 258 deliveries in six hours to reach 99, before his century came on a surprise mistiming that saw an inside edge fly past the wicketkeeper to the boundary. His 17th Test hundred was his first in 15 innings since the West Indies in February.
Burns led a charmed life on the way to his second century when he was dropped on 10 and 19 and on 87 survived a run-out opportunity when New Zealand botched the return throw.
But two balls after reaching three figures he ambled through the first single when Root called for two and although he accelerated on the return leg he was a centimeter short when BJ Watling broke the stumps.
Stokes strayed from the “bat-long” script when he replaced Burns and compiled a brisk 26 before Southee extracted slight movement off the wicket and found an edge for Ross Taylor to hold.
Crawley’s maiden Test innings only lasted six balls when he was caught behind to give Neil Wagner his first wicket.
For New Zealand, Southee has taken two for 63 while Wagner and Matt Henry have a wicket each.
(With inputs from agencies)