New Zealand needs six wickets on the final day to secure its first Test cricket series victory against England in 14 years after setting the touring team a record 481 runs to win and reducing it to 90-4.
Boosted by Peter Fulton’s second century of the match, the Black Caps declared their second innings at 241-6 and then removed Nick Compton, Jonathan Trott, Alastair Cook and Steven Finn before stumps on day four in Auckland.
England needs to bat out the last day to draw the three- match series 0-0 or get an unlikely 391 more runs to achieve the highest successful run chase in 136 years of elite cricket. The biggest fourth-innings total to win any Test is the West Indies’ 418-7 against Australia in May 2003.
Fulton said he’d value a victory over England more highly than his two centuries.
“I would gladly give back the hundreds to get a win,” he told reporters. “We’ve not had many Test wins over England, let alone series wins. For any New Zealander beating England in any sport is a pretty sweet thing and fingers crossed we can get those last six wickets.”
Fulton made 110 before home captain Brendon McCullum, who blasted an unbeaten 67 off 53 balls yesterday, declared after the lunch break. Tim Southee then got Compton to edge behind to BJ Watling for 2 in the ninth ball of England’s second innings.
New Zealand took 3-45 in the final session as Trott edged a Neil Wagner delivery to Watling when on 37. Part-time spin bowler Kane Williamson then had Cook (43) and Finn (0) caught in close with seven fielders crowded around the bat to finish with 2-5 off 6.1 overs.
The home team earlier resumed at 35-3 and added another 206 runs for the loss of three wickets.
Fulton followed up his breakthrough Test hundred in the first innings to join Glenn Turner, Geoff Howarth and Andrew Jones as the only New Zealand batsman to hit twin centuries in the same Test. Fulton’s previous highest score coming into the match was 75 against West Indies in 2006.
Nicknamed “Two-Meter Peter,” the 6-foot-6 Fulton struck 14 fours and brought up three figures with his fifth six before mistiming a pull shot to Joe Root at long-on off Finn’s bowling four balls later.
McCullum then added 42 runs off 30 balls with Watling to take the home team further out of reach.
England batting coach Graham Gooch said his team can still draw the game.
“I’m not giving any excuses because we have been outplayed, but we still have a chance to salvage something,” Gooch told BBC Sport. “We’re under a lot of pressure but we have some good players in our dressing room, some good young players and we have to believe we can save the game.”
The first two matches ended in rain-affected draws. New Zealand last won a Test series between the teams in 1999 and hasn’t beaten England at home since 1984.
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