After a frustrating third day, both New Zealand and England were welcomed by bright sunshine on the fourth day as the hosts stretched their lead to 289 at Eden Park on Sunday (March 25). Henry Nicholls was unbeaten on 100 as New Zealand took their score to 347 for 7 after starting on 233 for 4.
With plenty of overs lost because of rain, New Zealand came out with positive intent but were cautious enough to now throw away wickets first up. With the sun out and the ball not doing much, both got in and took on the English pacers to get the runs flowing.
Both Nicholls and Watling scored fluently but the latter threw away his wicket in the 106th over of the innings as he fell to Stuart Broad. The right-hander chased a wide one from the pacer without much feet movement and could only manage a thick outside edge to the ‘keeper. New Zealand had just crossed 260 at that stage and taken their lead past 200.
Colin de Grandhomme walked in next and scored a promising 39-ball 29 before falling to Craig Overton. If England were expected to run through the lower order after Watling’s wicket, they received a counter-attack from Nicholls and de Grandhomme. They scored 49 for the sixth wicket in next ten overs to pile on the pressure on the visitors.
De Grandhomme tried to pull and fullish ball from outside off and was caught behind after top-edging the ball to the ‘keeper. Nicholls got to his second Test ton just before the break when he took on Moeen Ali in the 127th over. New Zealand’s lead, at that stage, was 289 and they already had 347 on the board having lost three wickets in the morning session.
It’ll be interesting to see how long New Zealand bat considering they’ve already managed a substantial lead to put England under a lot of pressure.