Stuart Broad took four wickets but New Zealand still held a first innings lead over England of 85 runs in the second and final Test at Edgbaston on Saturday.
New Zealand were dismissed for 388 in reply to England’s 303 shortly before tea on the third day, with Broad returning impressive figures of 4-48 in 23.1 overs.
Three Blackcaps batsmen — Will Young, Devon Conway and Ross Taylor — all fell in the 80s. And the last-wicket duo of Ajaz Patel (20) and Trent Boult (12 not out) added a useful 21 before Patel was lbw on review to Broad.
England have not lost a home Test series in seven years. But following last week’s drawn opener at Lord’s, much now depended on their fallible top setting a stiff total for New Zealand to chase if they are to preserve that record.
England’s position was not helped by the lack of a specialist slow bowler on a pitch already taking turn, whereas left-arm spinner Patel took 2-34 in the hosts’ first innings.
New Zealand resumed on 229-3, a deficit of 74, after Young had been dismissed for 82 off the last ball of Friday’s play when part-time off-spinner Dan Lawrence had him caught at short leg.
Taylor, was 46 not out after opener Conway had followed his stunning 200 on debut in last week’s drawn first Test at Lord’s with 80.
The experienced Taylor completed just his second fifty in 15 Test innings when he swept Lawrence for four, his seventh boundary in 101 balls faced.
It was an encouraging sign for New Zealand ahead of their appearance in next week’s inaugural World Test Championship final against India at Southampton.
Taylor, however, should have been out for 68 but a miscued hook off Stuart Broad was dropped by substitute Sam Billings at fine leg as England missed yet another chance.
His impressive innings ended, however, with New Zealand in sight of a first-innings lead, when he tried to attack Olly Stone but succeeded only in edging the fast bowler to Bracey.
But Bracey’s joy turned to despair three balls later when the relatively novice gloveman dropped new batsman Blundell after failing to hang to a low one-handed chance off Stone as he dived to his right.
Bracey’s see-saw match continued when Henry Nicholls a ball after being hit on the helmet by a Mark Wood bouncer, gloved down the legside on 21 and was well caught by the keeper.—APP