A desire not to spend another day in the field helped drive BJ Watling to the Bay Oval's first Test century.

In warm weather and on a surface tough for both bowlers and run-scoring, Watling batted throughout the day to take New Zealand into the lead an hour or so before stumps. With the surface showing increasing signs of uneven bounce and two days left to play, it may prove a match-defining innings.

It was Watling's second successive Test century - he made an unbeaten 105 against Sri Lanka in Colombo - and his eighth in all. Only three men (Adam Gilchrist, Les Ames and Andy Flower) have scored more than his seven Test centuries as keeper (he made one as a specialist batsman) and only four men (the previous three mentioned plus AB de Villiers) have higher batting averages among those with a minimum of 1,000 Test runs.

But despite putting together a record that places him among the very best to have performed the arduous role of keeper-batsman, Watling spoke mainly of his limitations as a batsman and his desire not to find himself keeping after the best part of five sessions in the gloves over the first two days.

"I know I didn't want to field today so that was driving me," he said. "It was a warm day and you could tell they were tough conditions [for the fielding side].

"I just think I'm a very limited player. I try to play how I know works best for me. There are shots that the big boys can play and I definitely can't, so I take those away from my game. I try to stick to a game-plan and hopefully it pays off. I waited for balls to hit and I wouldn't be drawn into anything the bowlers wanted."

Watling does himself a bit of a disservice here. While he does not have the repertoire of de Villiers, for example, he does have a decent array of weapons at his disposal. He cuts, he sweeps and he drives. And he does all three elegantly. Most of all, though, he trusts his defence. And because of that, he was able to withstand some admirably disciplined bowling from Stuart Broad, in particular, and a couple of hostile spells from Jofra Archer.

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"It was hard work," he said. "England kept coming at us. They bowled extremely well. There were moments where they put us under a lot of pressure and the pleasing thing is we managed to soak it up. England executed their bouncer plan really well and the surface was slow and the bounce variable. It was tough to score freely."

As well as the personal satisfaction of scoring the century, Watling knows he has given his side a chance to secure victory. But with the lead currently a slender 41, he knows there is some work ahead to ensure New Zealand can drive home their advantage. Batting fourth could be tough on such a surface.

"We're expecting the surface to keep playing a few more tricks over the next couple of days," he said. "So it is important for us to try and build this lead a bit and put them under some pressure when they bat. The least amount of runs we can chase is better.

"I definitely think we can win. If we can get some partnerships going tomorrow there's every chance of a result going our way."