•  

    Over 137 - England 299/7 (Prior 101, Broad 2)

    Think of the poor, poor people who don't 'get' Test cricket. Weep for them. Boult back into the attack. Final dice being thrown by McCullum. REVIEW LOST: New Zealand use up their second review on an lbw shout against Broad, who'd got so far across the stumps to Boult that he'd actually got outside the line. No reviews left for New Zealand, but England still have both of theirs. Could yet be a factor. Well, it already has been: both these batsmen have been given out lbw off the inside edge. Boult goes round the wicket for the final ball of the over, understandably looking to hit that exposed leg stump. Broad defends. Six overs to go. In amongst all the excitement of the lbw appeal, I didn't actually notice but the ball ran away for four leg-byes. The first extras of the innings.

  •  

    Over 136 - England 295/7 (Prior 101, Broad 2)

    A weary Southee drags himself up to the mark for one last push. Heroes all over the field here. Not least McCullum, New Zealand's inspirational leader who is clearly injured and in some pain as he hobbles around various close-fielding positions. But the number one hero of the hour right now is Matt Prior, whose broad blade sees off another over. Seven to go.

  •  

    Over 135 - England 295/7 (Prior 101, Broad 2)

    Broad sees out an over from Martin. Just 48 balls remaining now. Among England wicketkeepers, only Les Ames, with eight, has scored more centuries than Prior. The current incumbent has now gone past Alec Stewart, who made six while in possession of the gauntlets.

  • Over 134 - England 295/7 (Prior 101, Broad 2)

    Field slightly spread now with Prior on 97 and Wagner charging in. There's the century! Prior actually livid with himself because he's fallen in to Wagner's trap by going after the short ball and hitting it in the air just out of the reach of the man at midwicket. He does celebrate the milestone eventually, acknowledging the love from the Barmy Army. It's his seventh Test century, and it's been an extraordinary one. Quite how he survived his first hour will puzzle cricket boffins for generations to come, but it has become a genuinely memorable innings.

  •  

    Over 133 - England 291/7 (Prior 97, Broad 2)

    Martin has troubled Broad but has been completely innocuous against the right-handers. Might be worth Prior staying at this end for as long as Martin is on. Let Broad deal with the quicks. For the umpteenth time today Martin drags the ball down short and Prior clumbs him away for four to move to 94. Not often there are eight men around the bat for a man on 94, but this is one such occasion. Prior drives down the ground but doesn't get all of it and has to take the runs. Three of them. Broad exposed for one delivery. Up comes the 50 partnership. Broad has contributed none of the runs but every bit as much to the cause. Runs! Broad edges the last ball of the over past slip and takes two runs. Stattos around the world cursing. Anyone can score a slow two not out. A slow nought not out, now there's a thing for the ages. Ten overs to go. Won't be any more than that;we've already had 23 minutes of the final hour. Broad, by the way, was on nought for 103 minutes.

  •  

    Over 132 - England 282/7 (Prior 90, Broad 0)

    Prior drives Wagner through the covers, and the batsmen opt to take three as the ball snags in the outfield. Prior then issues a lengthy and detailed set of instructions to Broad based on the founding principle of WATCHING THE BALL. A thick inside edge into the pads gets everyone excited before a good short ball goes past the gloves on its way through to Watling. Roars from the Barmy Army as another short ball finds the middle of Broad's blade and somehow the over is negotiated as a full ball goes past the groping defensive prod from the left-hander. Sixty-six balls remaining; Broad has now seen off 61 without scoring a run.

  •  

    Over 131 - England 279/7 (Prior 87, Broad 0)

    Broad somehow survives the over from Martin. No idea how he's done it. Two balls ricochet to close fielders straight off the pad, another does involve the edge but bounces short of the wounded general McCullum at silly-point.

  • Betting

    The draw now 2/9 at Sky Bet, New Zealand 3/1.

  •  

    Over 130 - England 279/7 (Prior 87, Broad 0)

    Wagner into the attack, which possibly ends New Zealand's chances of getting more than 15 overs in during this final hour as we're surely going to see one final burst from Boult and Southee. Broad pulls behind square-leg for four. It hardly matters. What does matter is the sight of a bouncer looping to Watling behind the stumps, but it's hit only Prior's shoulder rather than handle or glove. Hurt but unmoved, Prior presses remorselessly on. Cracking delivery, though. Spends most of the time looking like a fairly innocuous workhorse does Wagner but has the happy knack of Making Something Happen.

  •  

    Over 129 - England 275/7 (Prior 83, Broad 0)

    Martin switches to round the wicket after four balls of the over. Right decision; forces Broad to use the bat. But it does allow him to waste some seconds having the sightscreen moved. Huge cheers after the fifth ball of the over as Broad brings up his 50. Fourteen overs to go, Broad nought not out from 51 deliveries.

  •  

    The Final Countdown

    Both whoever's in charge of the PA and the Barmy Army trumpeter have the same idea. We're into the final hour. A minimum of 15 overs remaining, although New Zealand will try to increase that if they possibly can.

  •  

    Over 128 - England 275/7 (Prior 83, Broad 0)

    This is just the most gripping, intense stuff. We're watching England try to scrap to a 0-0 draw against New Zealand. And it's just about the best thing ever. Into the last hour we go. Ninety balls to go. Eighty-eight if these two can't be separated. Prior picks up two runs and is now England's leading run-scorer in the series, going past Jonathan Trott.

  •  

    Over 127 - England 273/7 (Prior 81, Broad 0)

    Broad now just five short of a half-century. Of dot balls. Epic.

  •  

    Over 126 - England 273/7 (Prior 81, Broad 0)

    Another over ticks by. Prior looking solid now, and clipping a legside delivery to the fine-leg fence to move into the 80s.

  •  

    Over 125 - England 269/7 (Prior 77, Broad 0)

    Martin back on. Broad survives. That's 39 balls of sometimes strained, often slapstick, but thus far successful defensive defiance.

  •  

    Extras

    Caspar with a serious point. Not sure I can allow that, but here goes: "On a more serious note, I am amazed that NZ have not concede one extra in 124 overs!!! Surely some kind of record?" Come on, Stattos. Is that a record? Vast amount of time not to feature so much as a leg-bye.

  •  

    Over 124 - England 269/7 (Prior 77, Broad 0)

    Prior inside-edges Southee past leg stump for four. The pair have a chat that seems friendly. Genuinely. Both grinning away.

  •  

    Over 123 - England 265/7 (Prior 73, Broad 0)

    Prior fends a short ball from Boult into the legside early in the over. Broad calls him through for a single, and then gets through the four remaining deliveries. Not the best from Boult, who doesn't make Broad play often enough. Broad now has no runs (irrelevant) from 33 balls (relevant). Twenty overs to go.

  •  

    Over 122 - England 264/7 (Prior 72, Broad 0)

    Broad on course for one of the great 0 not outs here. Sees off an over from Williamson, jabbing the bat down just in time on a quicker ball to end it. Oohs and aahs, but no breakthrough.

  • Betting

    And, once again, the draw sneaks past evens at Sky Bet. It's 10/11 each of two now...

  •  

    Over 121 - England 264/7 (Prior 72, Broad 0)

    Prior clips Boult to the fine-leg boundary. Doesn't matter. What does matter is another over has gone. Twenty-two remaining.

  •  

    Over 120 - England 260/7 (Prior 68, Broad 0)

    Prior wouldn't normally be farming the strike with Broad for company, but needs must. Broad currently looks like he's never held a bat before. Five dot balls before Prior skips down the wicket and clips the ball to midwicket for a long, long single. Southee tries desperately to escort the ball to the boundary, but the slow outfield denies him and in the end he's forced, reluctantly, to field the ball and resist the temptation to just chuck it over the rope.

  •  

    Over 119 - England 259/7 (Prior 67, Broad 0)

    SUCCESSFUL REVIEW: This match would be over without DRS. Broad gets in a horrible mess trying to deal with a Boult yorker, Broad loses his balance, almost takes his lip with his bat handle as he hits the ground and then looks up to see the finger raised in the affirmative after New Zealand's roared lbw appeal. Even before he's back to his feet Broad is signalling desperately for the review, and replays show a big inside edge before the ball hit his pads. Well played. Boult's pace, by the way, very much back up in that second over of his spell. All happening. What a game.

  •  

    Over 118 - England 259/7 (Prior 67, Broad 0)

    Williamson back into the attack. Prior negotiates a maiden, surviving one optimistic lbw appeal after padding up at one that does turn from outside off stump, but not enough to interest the umpire. Too much guesswork there.

  •  

    Over 117 - England 259/7 (Prior 67, Broad 0)

    That's eight 50s in 16 knocks from Prior. Plus his wicketkeeping, which is now world-class, and his qualities as a team man. Utterly crucial to the team now. Irreplaceable. Boult, meanwhile, is back into the attack, but his pace is down. Must be weary as he works his way into yet another spell. Prior blocks four balls before scampering a quick single. Broad continues his stump-exposing hopping about the crease but survives the final ball of the over. Twenty-six overs to go.

  •  

    Over 116 - England 258/7 (Prior 66, Broad 0)

    Prior takes a singel early in the over. Southee not too displeased to see Broad back in his sights. The left-hander then jumps so far across his stumps he exposes all three and is almost bowled round his legs. As an aside, since the start of the South Africa series in the summer, Prior's Test scores are: 60, 40, 68, 7, 27, 73, 48, 91, 21, 41, 57, 23, 23*, 82, 73, 66*. And that one, sole score under 20 was a run out in the chase for quick runs against the Proteas at Headingley.

  •  

    Over 115 - England 257/7 (Prior 65, Broad 0)

    There are loads of free runs available with these attacking fields, and Prior isn't shy about taking them. He whacks a four to long-leg and then takes a single to leave Broad two balls to survive. He does so.

  •  

    Snack

    Our old friend Caspar's been grazing again: "Just had a lamb sandwich, pack of M&Ms and a mini-egg. I reckon we should be fine now." Not two different-sized mini eggs?

  •  

    Over 114 - England 252/7 (Prior 60, Broad 0)

    Clever bowling from Southee, pinning Broad back with a couple of short balls and then going full to target the stumps. Broad stuck on the back foot and rapped on the pads, but he's outside the line. Wouldn't have hit. Southee himself actually the one to put his colleagues behind the stumps off the idea of a review. Ends the over with another full one, and this one is straight enough but Broad gets his bat in the way. Plenty of chat between Southee and Broad at the end of the over, and the umpires have a quiet word with McCullum about it.

  •  

    Over 113 - England 252/7 (Prior 60, Broad 0)

    Prior using the KP Oval 2005 Saving A Test Match playbook rather than the Colly Cardiff 2009 edition. Two short balls from Wagner are dispatched to the boundary, first with a dismissive pull shot and then a carve over gully.

  • Cardiff

    Charlie Sanford: "Anderson and Panesar saved a match against Australia, could it come down to them again, and if so....can they do it? I reckon they could!" They might be able to. Not sure I could.

  • Over 112 - England 244/7 (Prior 52, Broad 0)

    Prior backs away as Southee nears his delivery stride and the umpire calls dead ball. Southee can't bail out. though, and goes through with the delivery. It's a reverse-swinging peach that clatters into middle stump. A sighter for Prior anyway. IT'S REVERSING, MATT! IT'S REVERSING! Armed with this knowledge, Prior drives through the covers for two and then punches a sweetly-timed off-drive to the boundary to reach his second 50 of the match. What. A, Player. He's used up ludicrous reserves of luck today, but he continues to produce stellar performances for England on a regular basis. Two half-centuries to go with a couple of top-drawer catches in this match. The last ball of the over is cut to point, where a parry allows Prior to get a single and keep the strike. That's good for England. As long as he doesn't now get out. Obviously.

  •  

    Over 111 - England 237/7 (Prior 45, Broad 0)

    Stuart Broad gets through the remaining three balls of Wagner's over. Not particularly convincingly, it must be said, but he doesn't need to be convincing. He just needs to be there. For 32 more overs.

  • Feedback

    Anyone still here? Hope, eh? Awful, awful thing. Mails to Dave.Tickner@bskyb.com

  • Betting

    Having gone odds-against, New Zealand now 4/11 with Sky Bet after taking the big wicket of Bell. Draw out from odds-on to 2/1.

  • England 237/7

    New Zealand's session in the end as Bell's magnificent defiance is ended. If England had got to tea six down and with Bell still going, they were great shouts to get out of this. Now New Zealand are massive, massive favourites to claim victory in a match they've dominated. England have lost wickets at crucial times. Prior just before the new ball in the first innings. Cook just before stumps last night. Root just before lunch. And now, crucially, decisively, Bell on the very cusp of tea.

  • WICKET! Bell c Southee b Wagner 75

    And that race through Williamson's over pays off. Bell made an error on the stroke of lunch and got away with it. He's made another on the stroke of tea and hasn't, driving outside off stump and edging to Southee at third slip. That exposes the tail, with what now looks like an enormous 32.3 overs remaining after the interval.

  •  

    Over 110 - England 235/6 (Bell 73, Prior 45)

    Williamson races through an over to Prior. Be time for one more before tea. A minimum of 33 overs remaining.

  •  

    Over 109 - England 235/6 (Bell 73, Prior 45)

    Good, aggressive over from Wagner to Bell. The batsman almost tempted to go after one short ball before bailing out, and forced to take evasive action on a couple more occasions.

  •  

    Over 108 - England 235/6 (Bell 73, Prior 45)

    Much of the focus in this session has been on Prior, understandably enough. But in his quiet, obeying-the-laws-of-physics way what a magnificent innings Bell is playing here. He's made one mistake in 262 deliveries of defiance. A legside nurdle brings him a single before Prior slaps a wide Martin half-volley to the cover boundary.

  •  

    Over 107 - England 230/6 (Bell 72, Prior 41)

    Half-hearted appeals for caught behind as Prior tries to hook a head-high bumper. There was a noise, but I think it was a whippy handle as the bat came through. New Zealand entitled to believe that Prior should be given out purely on principle. It's an affront to logic that he's still there. But until the ICC get off their backsides and add 'defying all logic' to the methods of dismissal the Kiwis will have to lump it.

  • Betting

    The draw's just sneaked odds-on again at Sky Bet.

  •  

    Over 106 - England 229/6 (Bell 71, Prior 41)

    Short, wide, four. Martin back into the attack but continues to struggle and Prior hammers him away to the boundary. From the moment New Zealand took the second new ball, this game has been utterly captivating.

  •  

    Over 105 - England 225/6 (Bell 71, Prior 37)

    Too short from Williamson, allowing Prior to work him away for a single. That's the least dramatic thing that has happened since Prior got to the middle. Bell drives a half-volley down the ground for four.

  •  

    Over 104 - England 220/6 (Bell 67, Prior 36)

    Scholars will someday dedicate entire careers to working out precisely how Matt Prior has remained not out here. A push through point brings him two runs before a pair of pull shots bring four and then a single. In between those two shots, Prior fences at a short ball and lobs the ball short of the man at gully. This is insane. And there are still 39 overs to go. That's loads.

  •  

    Over 103 - England 213/6 (Bell 67, Prior 29)

    Williamson has massively outbowled Martin in this innings, and he's back into the attack now. And continues to massively outbowl Martin. An inside edge from Bell whistles between his legs and past leg-slip for four before a bat-pad somehow lobs to safety despite the attentions of three close fielders.

  •  

    Over 102 - England 209/6 (Bell 63, Prior 29)

    Is defying the laws of physics against the spirit of the game? They keep showing replays of that Prior 'bowled'. Every time, I think the bail's going to come off. Still reckon if they show enough replays it will eventually topple.

  •  

    Over 101 - England 207/6 (Bell 62, Prior 28)

    The good news for Prior - apart from the obvious bails-not-falling-off thing - is the fact that it all happened from the last ball of the over to allow a him a couple of minutes of recovery time watching Martin bowl an over of rubbish and Bell blocking it.

  •  

    Over 100 - England 207/6 (Bell 62, Prior 28)

    Genuinely losing it now. Just typed two Bells. Think it was because I was so excited to see Wagner back into the attack due to my long-standing fondness for watching to see if a bowler will foul the return crease with his back foot only to see him be just about all right. That angle draws Prior into playing a shot at one he could've left, but he nicks it between third slip and gully and picks up four. Let-off! Huge, astonishing, mystifying escape for Prior. A perfect short ball from Wagner has Prior in an almighty tangle and ricochets off the handle of the bat and the batsman's shoulder before cannoning into middle stump but somehow leaving the bails intact. Unbelievable and, if England do somehow contrive to escape with a draw, then that will come to be viewed as the defining moment of the series.

  •  

    Over 99 - England 203/6 (Bell 62, Prior 24)

    Bell has now seen off 240 deliveries, most with perfect forward defence. And thanks to those who spotted the two Matt Priors in the last over. I can now confirm that Bell was still batting, and that unfortunately England have not been able to clone their keeper-batsman. I've corrected the error as well now, meaning none of this makes any sense to anyone who didn't see it. Ah well. Too late to go back and delete it now.

  •  

    Over 98 - England 203/6 (Bell 62, Prior 24)

    Prior is nothing if not a ballsy character. Bowler's all over him, 46 overs to bat to save the series, he's just made a horrible mess of a pull shot... so he hammers a pull shot to the midwicket boundary. Better ball to go after this one; not quite as sharp as in the last over, and perhaps more importantly not quite as high. More comfortable shot. Sky New Zealand persisting with an on-screen graphic that says "To Win: 278"

  •  

    Spell

    Southee about to embark on his eighth over in this spell. How long can he keep going? He'll effectively clinch the series if he can get rid of Prior here and he's had the England keeper on toast in the last couple of overs.

  •  

    Over 97 - England 199/6 (Bell 62, Prior 20)

    Easy Martin maiden over seen off by Bell. Now the proper game resumes...

  •  

    Over 96 - England 199/6 (Bell 62, Prior 20)

    The ball change has worked for New Zealand. The original Kookaburra had stopped swinging, but this one seems to be reversing for Southee. The ball tailed in for both those (ultimately) unsuccessful lbw appeals in his previous over, and another such delivery here finds the inside half of the bat and squirts to square-leg. McCullum's seen enough and brings in a short-leg, probably an over later than he should have. Prior responds by pushing a drive past cover for two. Drop! Short ball from Southee surprises Prior who top-edges an attempted pull shot and thinks he's thrown his wicket away. But Wagner has plenty of ground to make up running to midwicket from mid-on and can't quite cling on diving away full-length. England's keeper-batsman was convinced he was a gonner there, but he lives to fight another ball and ducks another short ball before the last ball of the over fizzes past the outside edge. That's drinks. Think we could all do with one. Southee all over Prior here. Can't decide which was the worse decision: Tucker's to give that lbw, or Prior's to take on that short ball.

  •  

    Over 95 - England 197/6 (Bell 62, Prior 18)

    Moral victory for England here as Martin comes back into the attack. He's bowled filthy filth so far today, and starts this spell by bunging the ball down the legside. Smart take by BJ Watling. Martin follows that up with a pair of wide long-hops that Bell cuts away for four and then two.

  •  

    Over 94 - England 191/6 (Bell 56, Prior 18)

    SUCCESSFUL REVIEW: Two big lbw appeals against Prior, but both of them come off big inside edges. For some reason, Rod Tucker decides to give the second one out, but DRS comes to the rescue. Didn't really need replays or Hot Spot - you could see the edge very clearly in real time. Prior biffs the last ball of Southee's over through the covers for two.

  •  

    Over 93 - England 188/6 (Bell 55, Prior 16)

    Magnificent stuff again from Boult, first deceiving and beating Bell's pull shot with a slower-ball bouncer and then jagging a ripper past the shoulder of a flailing defensive bat after moving round the wicket. Fifty overs to go. Required rate's still under a run a ball...

  •  

    Over 92 - England 187/6 (Bell 54, Prior 16)

    REVIEW LOST: What is usually, and charitably, referred to as a "tactical review" from McCullum as he chances his arm in the hope that a Prior play-and-miss may in fact have involved a fine edge. It didn't. Can understand the desire to break this partnership - do so any time soon and the game is over - but that was a waste really. Prior blocks solidly down the ground for two and then carves the ball up and over the slips for a one-bounce four.

  •  

    Over 91 - England 181/6 (Bell 54, Prior 10)

    Bell plays out a maiden over from Boult. Rock-solid.

  •  

    Ball change

    The ball is being changed. They've only had it 10 overs, but it's already gone out of shape apparently.

  •  

    Over 90 - England 181/6 (Bell 54, Prior 10)

    Fine judgement from Bell, leaving the ball on fourth- and fifth-stump lines from Southee. Much oohing and aahing from behind the stumps, but Bell unfazed. He gets a single for a push past point. Just 300 to win now.

  •  

    Over 89 - England 180/6 (Bell 53, Prior 10)

    Another over ticks by. The new(ish) ball already looking slightly easier to deal with after just nine overs. How crucial could dropping Bell prove to be? Brownlie a superb catcher as well - as he showed with the dismissal of Alastair Cook last night.

  • Over 88 - England 179/6 (Bell 52, Prior 10)

    Bell through to an excellent half-century in good style, pulling Southee to the midwicket fence and then cover-driving with trademark elegance for three more. He's eaten up 197 minutes and 254 minutes. That edge off Boult in the crazy minutes before lunch apart, he's been immense.

  •  

    Over 87 - England 172/6 (Bell 45, Prior 10)

    Boult pushes the ball across Bell, who drives smartly through the covers for three. Boult then understandably tries to bowl nice and straight at the new batsman Prior - full, straight balls are his weakness at the best of times - but just gets it too straight here and is clipped away for a couple of boundaries. Doesn't really mean anything, save for the fact that the bowler who isn't bothered about conceding runs has yet to be born. McCullum - back on the field but hobbling badly - responds by bringing fine-leg up to leg slip. Every fielder within 20 metres of the bat. For McCullum, meanwhile, that could be one expensive hamstring twang with the IPL just round the corner.

  •  

    Over 86 - England 161/6 (Bell 42, Prior 2)

    Prior off the mark first ball with a clip through square-leg. Fifty-seven overs to go; these two need to bat the vast majority of them.

  • WICKET! Bairstow c Taylor b Southee 6

    Southee goes wide on the crease and draws Bairstow into playing at a ball he could've left alone. Healthy edge, and a straightforward catch for Ross Taylor at first slip. England really are in the last-chance saloon now with their last recognised pair at the crease in Bell and Prior.

  •  

    Over 85 - England 159/5 (Bell 42, Bairstow 6)

    A Boult over passes relatively uneventfully. Huge, huge, huge hour here in this series. If this pair can get past the new ball, with Prior still to come, then England really do have a chance.

  •  

    Over 84 - England 159/5 (Bell 42, Bairstow 6)

    Good over from Southee, albeit somehow uninspiring after the Boult Show. Bell attempts a drive and skews an outside edge to gully where Williamson fields smartly on the half-volley. If only his hands had been that good before lunch. Bell gets off strike with a defensive push to cover. Big gaps there; everyone's behind the wicket.

  • Chapter

    Mark from Morecambe: "Incidentally, I didn't know there were any other batting strokes apart from a solid forward defensive until four years into my cricketing life. Must be chapter one in the English Cricketing Textbook." And chapter two, chapter three, chapter four...

  • Betting

    Prices pretty much back where they started the day now at Sky Bet, with New Zealand 4/9 and the draw 7/4. You can have a bat on an England win if you like; 150/1 to you, sir.

  • England 158/5

    Sensational end to that session, Boult producing two magical overs with the new ball that have turned things back New Zealand's way but should have done so even more decisively. First Bairstow was lbw but there was no appeal, then - less forgivably - two straightforward chances went down in the final over before lunch. England will have thought one wicket was the most they could afford to lose in that session and retain realistic hopes of survival and they have - just - done that. That morning session a fine example of why all right-thinking people acknowledge Test cricket's place as mankind's single greatest achievement. For twenty-eight overs, nothing happened. Then bang! Boult's two-over spell as good as anything you will ever see.

  •  

    Over 83 - England 158/5 (Bell 41, Bairstow 6)

    Drops! Nothing happened for an hour and 45 minutes. Now it's carnage. Awful shots from both Bell and Bairstow send the ball flying into the slip cordon, both batsmen feeling for the ball outside off stump as they fret about the one that comes back at them. But first Dean Brownlie and then Williamson grass the chances. The slip cordon very close, but that was for the old ball. Both those chances flew. Boult does get the inswinger going to Bairstow, but he's equal to it and pings it through the legside for four. Eventful.

  •  

    Judged

    Tom again: "Ah you say that, but everybody loves a confident leave followed by an off stump cartwheel, a la Hussey." No finer sight in the game. Simon Jones to Michael Clarke in 2005 my favourite. Off stump went 20 yards.

  •  

    Over 82 - England 153/5 (Bell 40, Bairstow 2)

    Southee shares the new ball, with not quite the same deadly effect as Boult. Bell picks up a single off a thick inside edge before Bairstow gets off the mark with a plonk through the covers.

  •  

    Over 81 - England 150/5 (Bell 39, Bairstow 0)

    Enjoy yourself, Jonny Bairstow. This is going to be hard work. A big inswinger has Bairstow desperately inside-edging the ball into his own pads, but Hot Spot suggests that ball hit his boot before hitting his bat. If so, it's absolutely plumb lbw, but there's no appeal and yet less any thought of a review. Seen the Hot Spot again: Bairstow's got away with one there.

  • WICKET! Root lbw b Boult 29

    The new ball strikes instantly. Boult on the money straight away with a ball that shapes back and hits Root on the front pad in front of middle and off. Would've gone on to hit off stump just below the bail. After a long chat, the batsmen decide not to review.

  • Leave

    Tom, Suffolk: "Why bother using the bat at all - Surely you cannot beat a good, extravagant leave outside off stump?" You're a wise man, Tom. The leave is indeed a wonderful thing, and the only rival to the forward-defensive. Alas, sometimes those awful, classless bowlers will bowl the ball at the stumps so the forward defensive will always be necessary.

  •  

    Over 80 - England 150/4 (Bell 39, Root 29)

    Sweet, sweet timing from Bell here, driving Williamson straight down the ground and then clipping through midwicket for a lovely pair of boundaries to take England up to 150. New ball time.

  •  

    McCullum

    "He's gone in the fetlock," reckons Bumble as the New Zealand skipper departs the scene in some apparent discomfort. Looks like Williamson - who will bowl the final over before the new ball is due - will take the reins.

  • Six

    More from Neil: "I probably played a little early and the ball wasn't as full as I expected. Perhaps it was more of a stop shot - half forward-defence, half on-drive. Anyway was the first ball of my innings and the bowler displayed a complete lack of appreciation." Bowlers, eh. I've always thought that a forward defensive where the ball is stopped dead on the crease should be rewarded with, say, eight runs. Any fool can hit sixes.

  •  

    Over 79 - England 142/4 (Bell 31, Root 29)

    A low full-toss from Wagner is driven away pleasantly through square-cover by Root, the slow outfield preventing the boundary but giving the batsmen time to get through for an easy three. Wagner overpitches again, and Bell this time hits the full-toss straighter but also has to settle for three. Almost - almost - easier to hit a six than a four on this ground. McCullum appears to have done himself a mischief when sliding to field that Bell drive.

  •  

    Over 78 - England 136/4 (Bell 28, Root 26)

    Another inconsistent over from Martin, who decides to bowl half the over into the rough outside Root's leg stump for some reason. All kicked away. Last ball of the over is short and wide, but Root can't take full toll and gets only a single.

  • Evens

    New Zealand have just hit even money at Sky Bet. Draw now 4/5.

  •  

    Over 77 - England 135/4 (Bell 28, Root 25)

    New ball's going to come at quite a nice time for New Zealand. Be able to have a blast before lunch, rest up, then launch again. Meanwhile, a slower-ball bouncer from Wagner almost deceives Root who has to adjust to the lower-than-expected bounce but does so nicely and guides the ball into a gap at point for a single. A firm push past cover brings Bell two more from the final ball of the over.

  • Forward

    Neil Kelly: "I once forward defended an accidental 6 on a small ground." You're doing it wrong.

  •  

    Over 76 - England 132/4 (Bell 26, Root 24)

    Looks like everyone's just sitting in and waiting for the new ball here. Going to be a crucial passage of play on a day of crucial passages of play.

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    Over 75 - England 132/4 (Bell 26, Root 24)

    A neat cover-drive off Wagner brings Bell two runs, before the left-armer switches back over the wicket and finds a thick inside edge that brings the batsman a single. A good short ball to end the over has Root hopping but keeping the ball down safely.

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    Over 74 - England 129/4 (Bell 23, Root 24)

    All right, I concede the back-foot defence is not without its charms. But it's just not the same.

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    Over 73 - England 129/4 (Bell 23, Root 24)

    Good maiden over from Wagner, carefully played out by Bell. There have been some EXCELLENT forward defensive shots today. I remember as a 10-year-old boy being properly taught the forward defensive by the club coach and knowing instinctively that this was the shot for me. A significant moment in my life. I still don't know why people who've learned the forward defensive then waste their time learning all the other, lesser shots.

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    Over 72 - England 129/4 (Bell 23, Root 24)

    Better from Martin, completing a full over on a line and length. Almost sneaks one under Root's defences as the batsman plays back to one he should've been forward to.

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    Over 71 - England 129/4 (Bell 23, Root 24)

    Root goes past Bell, using the round-the-wicket angle from Wagner to tuck the ball down to fine-leg for a single.

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    Over 70 - England 128/4 (Bell 23, Root 23)

    This innings has been easily Martin's least impressive of the series to date. Just can't settle in on a line and length for some reason. A low full-toss this time, which Root turns away carefully for a single.

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    Over 69 - England 127/4 (Bell 23, Root 22)

    Neil Wagner into the attack with his trademark trick of bowling round the wicket and getting really, really close to the return crease without ever quite touching it. Bell and Root each pick up identical singles defending through the gap at point, and England have successfully negotiated the first hour. Relatively untroubled, to be fair, with both batsmen positive in defence and taking run-scoring opportunities when offered them.

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    Over 68 - England 125/4 (Bell 22, Root 21)

    Too short again from Martin, but beautifully put away by Root who's quickly on to the back foot and high-elbowedly punching the ball wide of mid-off for four. And yes, "elbowedly" is a word.

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    Over 67 - England 121/4 (Bell 22, Root 17)

    Another good over from Boult ticks by. A minimum of 76 overs remain, although there is the potential for New Zealand to get more than that in if the spinners do plenty of work in the afternoon once the second new ball softens. And, of course, assuming England bat long enough.

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    Over 66 - England 120/4 (Bell 22, Root 16)

    Poor end to a good over from Martin as a dragged-down ball is cut past point for four by Bell. New Zealand won't mind England scoring runs off Martin if they're driving - that comes with a risk. But too easy if they can play him off the back foot.

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    Over 65 - England 116/4 (Bell 18, Root 16)

    Another fine Boult over ends with the ball whizzing past Root's outside edge, the batsman fooling no-one by withdrawing his bat after the ball has passed it.

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    Over 64 - England 116/4 (Bell 18, Root 16)

    McCullum constantly tinkering with his field here, tweaking and tinkering with his array of close catchers. Not so much variation from the bowler Martin, who is yet to pose a problem for Bell or Root. Just a single from the over, though, worked into the legside off the back foot.

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    Over 63 - England 115/4 (Bell 18, Root 15)

    Trent Boult really is on top of his game right now. Into the attack on a flat pitch with an old ball, he instantly sends it past Bell's outside edge before the batsman gets a thick inside edge into his pads in an over that contains more threat (and oohs and aahs from behind the stumps) than the previous nine put together.

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    Over 62 - England 115/4 (Bell 18, Root 15)

    Encouraged by the way these two are going about things this morning. There's intent to rotate the strike and take any opportunities to score. If you stand there blocking with six men round the bat, sooner or later the game will be up. Root punches through cover for a couple before each batsman picks up a single.

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    Over 61 - England 111/4 (Bell 17, Root 12)

    Martin twice drops short to Bell, who cuts both carefully through the offside for a couple of couples.

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    Over 60 - England 107/4 (Bell 13, Root 12)

    Two men back now if Root wants to take on another short ball. Means those men aren't catching close to the wicket, though, so something of a victory for the batsman. Root picks up two with a punch off the back foot as Southee goes wide on the crease.

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    Over 59 - England 105/4 (Bell 13, Root 10)

    The Williamson Experiment comes to an end. Probably two overs too late. Bruce Martin into the attack. Bell plays out a maiden.

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    Over 58 - England 105/4 (Bell 13, Root 10)

    Fair enough this from Root, as Southee tries a short ball and the Yorkshireman pulls it in front of square for four. Important to play normally here. Nothing wrong with putting bad balls away to keep the bowlers honest.

  • Betting

    The draw price already on the move at Sky Bet after 15 minutes of solid defence from Bell and Root. England 2/1 to escape, New Zealand 2/5 for victory and a success for the tourists a mere 66/1. Head to skybet.com for a host of in-play markets.

  • Amends

    Robbie from Kent: "Well can England do the impossible tonight and reward your loyal supporters who have stayed up every night. You have had a shocking Test match; time to make amends."

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    Over 57 - England 101/4 (Bell 13, Root 6)

    This is more like it. The block is on as Bell makes it back-to-back maidens as he keeps out Williamson.

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    Over 56 - England 101/4 (Bell 13, Root 6)

    Normal service resumed as England's giddy charge for victory is stalled by a maiden over from Southee to a watchful Root. Very little movement for the bowler, though.

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    Over 55 - England 101/4 (Bell 13, Root 6)

    Slightly surprising to see Williamson after completing last night's over, but after those two wickets probably fair enough. Might not get another over, though, posing no threat here and giving Bell the chance to cut hard behind point for four. England going for the win! (Not really.)

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    Over 54 - England 97/4 (Bell 9, Root 6)

    First alarm of the morning as Bell lunges forward to Tim Southee and gets a toe-end on his defensive shot and is relieved to see the ball bounce into this rock-hard track and over the stumps. A more-solid defensive push brings an easy single, despite Bell instinctively calling "NO!" after hitting the ball.

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    Over 53 - England 96/4 (Bell 8, Root 6)

    Whoa there, Young Joe Root. He's gone quite, quite mad here, inexplicably scoring six runs from the last five balls of the Williamson over via a couple of clips off the hip and a cut past point. At this rate, England will win the game in 53.3 overs today. Just before tea.

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    Ready to go

    Joe Root strides out alongside Ian Bell to begin his innings after Finn fell in Kane Williamson's final over of the day.

  • Feedback

    Thoughts and views on the action always most welcome: Dave.Tickner@bskyb.com the address to use. I see tonight going one of two ways. Swift and remorseless victory fro the home sides or - and this one is far, far worse for England fans - a tantalising glimpse of salvation thanks to an epic yet ultimately futile one-run-an-over-for-a-session-and-a-half alliance between any two of Bell, Root and Bairstow. Hope is the cruellest of all the emotions on days like this, raised slowly, agonisingly, almost imperceptibly and then snuffed out in an instant.

  •  

    Welcome

    After dominating this Test for four days, New Zealand are now in prime position to claim a series victory over meaningful opposition for the first time since 2006. Just six wickets stand between Brendon McCullum's men and glory after the crucial late scalps last night of Alastair Cook and Dunedin denier Steven Finn. But there are still four specialist batsmen available to England. It's a long shot, but they only need to bat for 45 overs each. Block and leave, leave and block. Ian Bell showed the way last night with his strokeless but stressless eight not out from 89 balls.