New Zealand v England, 3rd Test, Auckland, 4th day March 25, 2013

New Zealand on top after setting England 481


England 204 and 90 for 4 (Cook 43, Williamson 2-5) need another 391 runs v New Zealand 443 and 241 for 6 dec (Fulton 110, McCullum 67*)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

New Zealand are on course for an historic series victory against England after dominating the fourth day of the final Test in Auckland. Peter Fulton's second century of the match took New Zealand out of reach, but it was the bowlers who hammered nails into the coffin of England's hopes to salvage a draw. England will resume on the final day with just six wickets in hand and all three of their most obdurate batsmen gone.

Fulton, who came into the game having not scored a century in a Test career that began in 2006, pulverised the England attack on the fourth day in a devastating partnership with his captain, Brendon McCullum, that did not so much close the door on England's hopes as slam it in their faces.

Fulton's heroics have earned New Zealand an outstanding opportunity to claim just the second home series win in their history against England. The first was in 1983-84. New Zealand have not won a series against any of the top eight Test nations - nations other than Bangladesh or Zimbabwe - since they defeated West Indies in 2006.

Here they set England 481 to win the third Test and, with it, the series. New Zealand finally declared on 241 for 6 in their second innings having plundered runs with ease against a dispirited attack.

The manner with which Fulton brought up his second century of the match - a straight six thumped back over the head of Stuart Broad - spoke volumes for the balance of power in this encounter: New Zealand, roundly dismissed as no-hopers before the series, established dominance over an England team that arrived in the country full of confidence, having just beaten India in India.

New Zealand, resuming 274 ahead at the start of play on the fourth day, extended their advantage by another 206 runs in just 34.2 overs. Fulton, batting with more confidence than at any time in his Test career following his maiden century in the first innings, drove powerfully through mid-on and three times took a step or two down the pitch to thump Monty Panesar for six back over the bowler's head. As his confidence grew, he gave himself room to drive Anderson over extra cover for six more.

He became one of just four New Zealand players to have scored one in each innings of the same Test. Glenn Turner (against Australia in 1973-74), Geoff Howarth (against England in 1977-78) and Andrew Jones (against Sri Lanka in 1991) are the others to have done so.

His fifth-wicket partnership with his captain, Brendon McCullum, was worth 117 runs, scored in just 16.5 overs, as New Zealand progressed with an ease that made a mockery of the gap between these two teams in the Test rankings.

Fulton enjoyed one moment of fortune. When he had 31, he mistimed his attempted on drive off Stuart Broad but saw James Anderson, at a shortish midwicket, spill a sharp but far from impossible chance. New Zealand would have been 65 for 4 had it been taken.

England produced an oddly diffident performance in the field. Their attempt to pitch the ball fuller in search of swing that remained elusive too often resulted in over-pitched deliveries that Fulton drove through mid-on. At other times the England bowlers drifted on to Fulton's legs, allowing him to pick up runs with an ease that defined the match situation.

The introduction of Panesar brought some relief for England. His third delivery induced Dean Brownlie to attempt to clear the field. Ian Bell, running back from mid-on, made a desperately tough chance appear straightforward.

But that only brought McCullum to the crease. He square drove his first delivery, a wide, over-pitched ball from Steven Finn, to the point boundary and soon pulled Anderson, looking more jaded by the moment, and Finn for sixes.

Panesar bore the brunt of the assault, though, His attempt to stem the flow by bowling over the wicket and into the rough outside the right-handers' leg stump was negated when McCullum took him for successive boundaries, a powerful pull followed by a precise sweep, and drove him for another six. Panesar conceded 52 in five overs at one point. It was brutal batting.

Whatever Alastair Cook envisaged when he won the toss and inserted New Zealand on the first day, it was surely not a situation where his side had to bat for four-and-a-half sessions to save the game. There were no realistic hopes of victory: England have never chased more than the 332 they made against Australia in Melbourne in 1928-29 to win a Test and no team has ever made more than the 418 West Indies made against Australia in Antigua in 2002-03. The highest successful chase on this ground is 348, made by West Indies in 1968-69, though since the introduction of drop-in pitches just over a decade ago, no side has managed more than the 166 scored, admittedly for the loss of just one wicket, in 2005.

Nor is this the England team that enjoyed such success a couple of years ago. Not only is there no Kevin Pietersen, but there are fewer lower-order allrounders such as Graeme Swann or Tim Bresnan. Two of the middle-order, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow, came into this game with only eight Test caps between them and the days when Stuart Broad could be considered an allrounder seem long ago.

Tim Southee soon made inroads into England's second innings. Nick Compton, feeling for a fine delivery that pitched on off stump and left him, edged a catch behind the stumps before Jonathan Trott squandered his display of resistance by chasing a wide one from the impressively sharp Neil Wagner, bowling left-arm around the wicket.

But the hammer blow was inflicted by part-time off-spinner Kane Williamson. Cook, on one, had survived a chance to BJ Watling when he felt for one angled across him from Southee. But when he edged a drive off Williamson, Brownlie, very close in at gully, clung on to a very sharp chance.

With Finn, the nightwatchman, also falling to an outstanding close catch before the close, New Zealand were on the brink of a memorable success. It meant that a series that started with many England supporters presuming an easy victory looks set to finish with their team engaged in a desperate - and surely vain - struggle to salvage a draw.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • current on March 25, 2013, 23:20 GMT

    NZ may seem on top, but the they have given England a chance to save the match by declaring quite late. 480 or 420 it's the same. Without Peterson, England are not going for any 400+ target in the fourth innings.

    That's where the Australians are a bit better - taking a calculated chance. England were very hungry to win this match and any remotely gettable target would have induced more errors and more wickets. As things stand, they have shut shop and are not taking any risks.

  • David on March 25, 2013, 22:25 GMT

    @icknid: I don't think England have been bullies (they are not good enough to bully teams), but they have been arrogant, particularly in this test. There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance and I think England crossed that line. I honestly think they underestimated New Zealand and have been thoroughly outplayed and outthought as a consequence. In the medium term I think England will bounce back and I think they will beat NZ and Australia in England, but if they have to lose a test then I am glad it is this one. Firstly because it will teach them a lesson in humility and secondly because New Zealanders are excellent people and I mind my team losing to them just a little bit less.

  • John on March 25, 2013, 22:06 GMT

    Anyone who uses this thread to criticize England is doing New Zealand a disservice. NZ has played extremely well and has outbatted, outbowled, outfielded and outcaptained England in this game. It's been an excellent performance by the kiwis and they would have beaten anyone except perhaps South Africa with their play in this game.

    England will no doubt examine what they could have done differently, but the truth is not much. Sometimes a side just gets it all right and this has been one of those occasions for NZ. I take my hat off to them.

  • Chandresh on March 25, 2013, 20:23 GMT

    How should bullies be treated? Well, if you give back and then some, they usually cry off. All the posturing and arrogance that England have shown over last few years really winds me up. The sledging and air of superiority has had little effect on this New Zealand team - they are young and talented, probably a couple of bowlers short of being a very good side. Poor 2 metres Pete Fulton !! He copped so much abuse from Anderson, Finn, and Broad in the first two test matches, and was labelled by the pundits as with 'limited' ability. Well, he has responded like a man - with his bat.... and not by being abusive. The forthcoming Ashes tour look competitive - between two average sides. And England have to get through New Zealand again in May and June....Hmmm!

  • Mark on March 25, 2013, 20:16 GMT

    What the English supporters and English team didnt realise is NZ have actually got talented players that can compete with them. The overriding attitude seemed to be about turning up and winning.

    NZ's problem is not talent, its consistency. McCullum unfortunately personifies this. The exciting thing is the core of this team is so young. Williamson, Rutherford, Southee, Boult, Bracewell, Watling, Latham.. all young talented players with the world at their feet. Consistency will hopefully come with maturity. Gogo NZ!

    Apologies for not focussing on England or India in my post.

  • Dummy4 on March 25, 2013, 20:15 GMT

    An absolute brutal assault on England's bowlers by 2 meter Peter. Did you watch it? Could you hear the thunderous shot cracking!!!!, reverberating around the stadium like a 21 gun salute? I did, not live, but live on telly. Here here to the man. It matters not if the Kiwis lose in May - and who's to say they will. What matters is they played some of the most brilliant cricket you will see from the under dog, they have played with the Spirit of the game as it should be played. Not only out bowled with swing and turn, out batted with patience, and brutality, but England have really been out thought. NZ showing just how cunning and precise they can be, no doubt borrowing brilliance and belief in the way they play from their World Cup winning Rugby team. They haven't won it yet. Do they deserve to? I'll bet Mccullum wont let them even think about whats deserved untilll it has been achieved.

  • Amanda on March 25, 2013, 20:12 GMT

    All is not lost for England,though the state of the game suggests England will lose around teatime....however always expect the unexpected! I think there was a personal element in Alastairs decision to insert New Zealand after winning the toss,being an opening bat maybe he didn't want to risk himself nor his team batting first on what could have been a difficult track.As the mistake became more evident as the day progressed he appeared to have lost the bowlers. All our fielders around the boundary during their 2nd innings,all their fielders around our batsmen during our 2nd innings.What kind of message does send to the Kiwis..Their confidence,dominance and superiority has grown exponentially during the game whilst ours has evaporated. Alastair is a world class batsman and has the potential to be a world class captain but it will take time.Regardless of the outcome of this game I'm sure this series will be a valuable lesson for him.Come on Alastair an the boys.

  • stuart on March 25, 2013, 20:04 GMT

    to be honest England have played like a bunch of bankers (Its rhyming slang. They need to sort out why after such a good series win they play like complete planks. As for Bell if he doesn't save this match then he should kiss goodbye. He has all the long term planning of a kamikaze pilot.

  • Dummy4 on March 25, 2013, 19:24 GMT

    A highly inconsistent and mediocre team was made out to be something they aren't. Thanks to the English media and some of their highly illustrious and expressive fans on these forums. This is why I can't wait for the Ashes as a neutral. Australia are going to surprise these English. I have always felt the Australians had better fast bowlers than England. Both teams are inconsistent and have faulty batsmen. England might enjoy home crowd support but that's about it. NZ have thoroughly exposed the fallibility of England's resources. They thought they could show up and trounce NZ 3-zip. Too bad, that's not going to happen. NZ looking good to win the series from here on.

  • Sean on March 25, 2013, 19:16 GMT

    Some posters have short memories. The England team was in meltdown last summer, Strauss gone, Pietersen in limbo, a divided dressing room, just lost a series and #1 ranking to SA and a tour of India to come. That really was some series win in India, just look what's happened to Australia out there. This has been a poor England performance and a good New Zealand one, but it has not suddenly made us a bad team. As for 5 bowlers, 4 under performing seamers are no better than 3. IF, that's IF, we had a Flintoff or Kallis, fine, but we do not. Let's not press the panic button like the Aussies have done, start a rotating door selection policy, fill our team with bits and pieces players and bat the keeper at 6.