New Zealand Vs England Third Test: Kiwis Close To Series Win (PICTURES)

England are struggling to avoid only their second series defeat in New Zealand, after Peter Fulton made history of his own with hundreds in each innings of the final Test at Eden Park.

Fulton (110) followed his maiden century three days ago with an increasingly brutal display in the Kiwis' 241 for six declared on the fourth afternoon. His stand of 117 in 101 balls either side of lunch with Brendon McCullum (67 not out) was an embarrassing passage of play for England in which the short straight boundaries at this peculiar ground took a relentless hammering.

The tourists were left needing to bat four-and-a-half sessions to rescue a third successive draw - and in notional pursuit of a world-record 481, with three still to go they were 90 for four.

New Zealand celebrate the wicket of night watchman Steven Finn

Captain Alastair Cook, on the back of a rare first-innings failure, took it upon himself to try to put things right on a pitch still favouring the batsmen - but was gone by stumps after a painstaking 43 from 145 balls.

There was no hiding place for England's bowlers, Monty Panesar suffering in particular as New Zealand extended their lead in the six-hitting contest here to 16-1.

England set out with hopes of either bowling New Zealand out cheaply, or alternatively restricting the run rate. Haplessly, they achieved neither as Fulton and then McCullum made a mockery of Sunday night's stumble to eight for three by the hosts.

When the tourists began their last stand, the contrast was extreme - all the more so after Nick Compton was caught behind pushing forward at Tim Southee in the second over. The other conspicuous variable was that, as in the first innings, New Zealand were able to swing the ball much more than their opposite numbers.

Wicketkeeper BJ Watling missed a much tougher chance to see off Cook for just a single, diving low to his left off Southee, and it took the introduction of Neil Wagner after tea to break the second-wicket stand when Jonathan Trott tried to drive the left-armer from round the wicket and edged behind.

Cricket - Third Test - New Zealand v England - Day Four - Eden Park

New Zealand vs England

Cook and Ian Bell retreated to near strokeless defiance, the captain's crawl attended by a partner who took 19 balls to break his duck and then added just six more runs from another 70 deliveries.

For England, though, the wickets column was the only one that still mattered. When Cook edged a drive at part-time off-spinner Kane Williamson for a sharp catch at second slip by Dean Brownlie, and then nightwatchman Steven Finn went in similar fashion in the final over, that too was none too clever.

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