Cook’s exit leaves England battling to save test

Tuesday, 26 March 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters: Part-time spinner Kane Williamson took two wickets, including that of Alastair Cook, just before stumps to put New Zealand firmly in charge of the series-deciding third test against England at the end of the fourth day at Eden Park on Monday.

Ian Bell was on eight, while nightwatchman Steven Finn was dismissed in the final over of the day by Williamson for a duck to reduce England to 90 for four at the close, chasing an improbable 481 for victory and now needing to bat out the final day’s play on Tuesday to scrape to a face-saving draw.

Cook, who had earlier been dropped on one, and Bell had engaged in a war of attrition as they battened down the hatches in the final session after Jonathan Trott had been dismissed for 37 to swing the match firmly in New Zealand’s favour.

The England captain, whose mental strength would have been key to the visitors batting out the entire final day, was well set on 43 and seemingly content to see out the day when he inexplicably drove at a Williamson delivery and the ball flew to Dean Brownlie at second slip. Finn fell on the first ball of the 53rd over when New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum placed eight players around the bat and Tim Southee took a catch that had struck the batsman on the wrist and rolled up his arm.

McCullum had declared the hosts’ second innings closed about 45 minutes after lunch on 241 for six, after Peter Fulton became the fourth New Zealand batsman to score a century in each innings of a test. McCullum finished unbeaten on 67 when he declared after Watling was well caught in the

deep for 18.

The declaration ensured England would need to break the world record for the highest successful run chase to win the match and the series after the first two games ended in rain-affected draws.

The highest fourth innings score to win a game was the 418 for seven that West Indies compiled against Australia in 2003. Only one side has scored more than 300 to win a test at Eden Park.