England lost opener Zak Crawley but held firm in the final hour of a pulsating day four in the second Test against New Zealand to be 48/1 at stumps in Wellington on Monday, needing 210 runs to secure victory and a series sweep.
New Zealand captain Tim Southee bowled Crawley for 24 but opener Ben Duckett (23 not out) and nightwatchman Ollie Robinson (one not out) negotiated the tense final overs at the Basin Reserve.
England will fancy their chances of reeling in the remaining runs on Day 5 after chasing down a slew of big scores in the home summer.
New Zealand, however, will rue having missed the chance to set a bigger fourth-innings target.
England spinner Jack Leach said he was looking forward to an exciting final day.
“We know how we are going to go about things, we’ll be positive, entertain the crowd, we’ll be doing the same tomorrow,” he added.
England rattled through the last five wickets after tea to wrest back the advantage after an inspiring Kane Williamson century raised the hosts’ hopes of an unlikely victory.
Asked to follow on, New Zealand were bowled out for 483 in their second innings but it could have been much more.
Williamson scored 132 and anchored a big partnership with wicketkeeper Tom Blundell (90), the pair frustrating the English bowlers for the entire session to tea.
They had resumed on 423/5 after the break, looking well set to carry on.
Enter golden boy Harry Brooks, who provided the unlikely breakthrough for England when he had Williamson caught down the legside with his part-time medium pace.
New Zealand promptly crumbled, losing their last four wickets for five runs.
All-rounder Michael Bracewell hastened the collapse by being run out for eight when he failed to ground his bat, a howling error given he had jogged well past the line when Ben Foakes whipped off the bails.
The wicket exposed the tail and paceman Southee was promptly out slogging for two.
Leach dismissed tail-ender Matt Henry for a duck and Blundell for 90, finishing with a five-wicket haul for the innings as reward for a massive 61.3-overs shift.
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