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Stokes firm but New Zealand four wickets away from series lead

Ben Stokes was unbeaten on 26 off 86 but New Zealand surged towards a win with three wickets before Tea break at Eden Park on Monday (March 26). England went into the break at 217 for 6, still trailing by 152 runs, having lost Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow in the first session.

New Zealand made a positive start courtesy Tim Southee. England lost Malan early into the day when the left-hander chased a delivery angled across him from the pacer. With no feet movement, all he could do was edge the ball to second slip and fall for 23.

New Zealand were also guilty of grassing opportunities presented to them. Bairstow was let off a pair when BJ Watling dropped him off Trent Boult soon after the early wicket in the day. In the 71st over, Bairstow pulled a long hop from Tod Astle straight to Boult at mid-on. The pacer dropped the simplest of chances to give the England batsman his second reprieve inside the first hour.

While Stokes started positively in the day, getting off the mark with a boundary against Boult on the first delivery of the game, he then decided to adopt the overcautious approach and dug deep to keep the New Zealand bowlers at bay. Bairstow’s charmed life finally and it took a stunner from Kane Williamson to help the hosts earn their second wicket of the day.

Tod Astle banged one in and Bairstow pulled it wide of midwicket. However, Williamson dived to his right and managed to just about hold on to the catch. Moeen Ali fell at the stroke of Tea to give Boult his third wicket. England will have to remember on this day in 2013, they walked out to bat and saved the Test with Matt Prior and Monty Panesar just about held on with one wicket in hand. However, England will need something really special from Stokes to pull off something like that.

Brief scores: England 58 & 217/6 (Mark Stoneman 55; Trent Boult 3-39) trail New Zealand 427/8 (Henry Nicholls 145*, Kane Williamson 102; Stuart Broad 3-78) by 152 runs.

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