New Zealand v England, 1st Test, Auckland, 4th day March 25, 2018

Boult leaves NZ with seven wickets to get on final day

England 58 and 132 for 3 (Stoneman 55, Root 51) trail New Zealand 427 for 8 dec. (Nicholls 145*, Williamson 102) by 237 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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Highlights - Root resistance broken as England toil

It took England three-and-a-half days of gloom to show New Zealand their gritty side and yet by stumps they still had much work to do, having lost captain Joe Root off what turned out to be the last ball of the day. They trail by 237 runs in the second innings, with seven wickets in hand.

Root and Mark Stoneman had defied New Zealand with an 88-run second-wicket partnership, both making spirited half-centuries. But just as England might have contemplated a good day's work, their captain was dismissed by a brute of a bouncer from Trent Boult. Their battle in the dying stages of play was incredibly compelling, with the left-arm quick even engaging in a few verbals, and also striking a painful blow on Root right hand. One ball later, he took Root out, caught down the leg side.

New Zealand's declaration, determined strategically by time and not runs, to bowl with the newer ball under lights, came an hour into the second session, with a lead of 369. Henry Nicholls led their batting performance with his highest first-class score, an unbeaten 145.

Faced with a massive deficit, Boult made a significant dent to England's hopes of salvaging a draw by having Alastair Cook strangled down the leg side prior to the dinner break.

Stoneman, having earned his place in the Test side after a county season in which he scored 1156 runs in 12 matches for Surrey last year, hadn't really had the chance to showcase the fluency with which he scored all those runs in England. However, with attacking fields and the ball not moving much, he capitalised, freely driving and flicking through the line.

Neil Wagner, who didn't have much to do for the first three days, made his first significant contribution to the Test by having Stoneman caught at deep square leg with a short ball.

At the other end, Root wasn't short of confidence, waiting patiently for the shorter length, accumulating 29 of his 51 runs behind square on both sides of the wicket.

Earlier on the fourth day, in entirely different overhead conditions, Nicholls displayed the same admirable patience and diligence to reach his second Test century. The leg side was particularly productive for Nicholls, as he forced the bowlers to err in his areas by repeatedly leaving balls outside his off stump. He scored 67 of his first 100 runs in the leg side, 30 of which came in the midwicket region.

Against James Anderson and Stuart Broad, generating significant lateral movement, Nicholls and BJ Watling began cautiously. Watling had added 13 to his overnight score, before wafting at a wide delivery from Broad in an attempt to increase the rate of scoring. A thin edge was easily accepted by the keeper.

Colin de Grandhomme helped New Zealand propel their scoring rate with a lively 39-ball 29, an innings that featured five fours and a six. There were the usual spanking drives, the disdainful pulls and the discernibly late cuts, both sides of point. He added 49 with Nicholls as New Zealand's lead crossed 250, but the partnership could have been broken a lot sooner. In the 111th over, de Grandhomme inside-edged Chris Woakes into Jonny Bairstow's gloves but umpire Bruce Oxenford ruled it not out and England did not have any reviews to challenge the on-field decision.

Todd Astle scored 18 runs, with three fours, before he chopped on off Broad. Tim Southee chipped in with 25 in an eighth-wicket partnership worth 72. In total, New Zealand added 204 runs off 46 overs to set up their declaration.

Nikhil Kalro is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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