England 'need a hero', says Broad as New Zealand tighten grip

England's position at 132 for three, 237 in arrears, revived memories of the cliffhanger Test, the last time the sides clashed here, in Auckland five years ago, when the match went down to the final ball.

Stuart Broad (above) had sympathy for Joe Root, but as a bowler, who took three for 78 when New Zealand batted, he also expressed respect for Trent Boult's skill.   -  AFP

The fall of Joe Root's wicket on the last ball of day four, on Sunday, left England calling for a hero to salvage a draw in the first Test against New Zealand, in Auckland.

England's position at 132 for three, 237 in arrears, revived memories of the cliffhanger Test, the last time the sides clashed here, in Auckland five years ago, when the match went down to the final ball.

On that day, in 2013, at Eden Park, England started 390 behind, with only six wickets remaining, but batted the whole day and survived the final three overs, with nine wickets down, to claim a nail-biting draw.

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With Root out to a fired up Trent Boult, late Sunday, England go into this final da,y with seven wickets available, to avoid an innings defeat.

At stumps, England was 132 for three, after Root departed for 51, and Mark Stoneman was out for 55. Alastair Cook went early for two, while Dawid Malan was not out 19.

“We'll need a hero. Five years ago Matt Prior was the hero with 100 and someone's got that chance tomorrow,” fast bowler Stuart Broad said at close of play.

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“It was a real shame to lose Joe on the last ball of the day, we all felt that after he played so brilliantly for his 50. However, it proves there's runs to be had out there.”

Root had just suffered a painful blow to the index finger of his right hand, and on the next ball edged Boult to be caught behind. Broad had sympathy for his skipper, but as a bowler, who took three for 78 when New Zealand batted, he also expressed respect for Boult's skill.

“You've got to credit the bowler sometimes. A good bouncer to wrap a batter on the finger then a good follow-up, well bowled. If we get a bit of luck tomorrow and we're disciplined, we can see out this day,” he said, but added that England was still in the match.

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Nice way to end the day

New Zealand begged to differ, with its top-scorer Henry Nicholls saying that the Black Caps had the momentum going into the final day.

“Root is obviously a quality player and it was certainly a nice way to end the day. It's going to be a nice day five, bowling (for) seven wickets to win a Test match,” said Nicholls, who finished his own innings on an unbeaten 145.

England was in immediate strife in its second innings, with Cook out in the third over to Boult, who finished the day with two for 24. New Zealand had declared its first innings on 427 for eight, setting England a target of 369 to avoid an innings defeat.

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The timing of the declaration gave the host 50 minutes to bowl at England before dinner, in the day-night Test, and then have another crack in the final, twilight-to-dark period.

The innings was only into its third over, when Cook was dismissed, and when the swing started to fade, Neil Wagner used his bouncers in the final session to remove Stoneman, to reduce England to 94 for two.

Nicholls had shown, when he was at the crease, that there were no demons in the wicket. He and Kane Williamson, who scored 102, laid the foundations for New Zealand's crushing lead despite rain interruptions, which reduced, days two and three, to a total of 25 overs.

After resuming Sunday on 233 for four in sunshine, New Zealand added 194 for the loss of four more wickets. Watling went for 31, Todd Astle for 18, Colin de Grandhomme made a quick 29, and Tim Southee was out for 25. Broad ended with three for 78, and James Anderson took three for 87.