Wellington: Matt Prior produced an exceptional counter-attacking innings then Stuart Broad captured two wickets in successive balls as England took control of the second Test against New Zealand by the close of play of the second day on Friday.
England, bowled out for 465 just minutes before the tea interval, reduced New Zealand to 66 for three at stumps and put themselves firmly in charge of the match with three days still to play.
Kane Williamson was 32 not out, while Dean Brownlie was on eight after England’s pace bowlers had given the New Zealand line-up a torrid working over in the final session.
Broad seized on the earlier work by James Anderson and Steven Finn to lure Hamish Rutherford (23) into chasing a full wide delivery that only succeeded in catching an outside edge and the ball flew to Alastair Cook at first slip.
Former New Zealand captain Ross Taylor was then clean bowled with a beautiful delivery that seamed slightly away and clipped the top of Taylor’s off stump to leave the hosts in dire straits on 48 for three.
Brownlie survived the hat-trick delivery with a push to midwicket for two runs.
“For Broady to get two balls in the right area back to back was credit to him (and) those couple of wickets at the end certainly turned that last session,” said Prior, who launched a blistering counter-attack to score 82 runs from 99 balls and halt any momentum New Zealand had been gathering.
“That was hats off to the bowlers, grabbing the opportunity.
“We’ve got to make sure that we come in tomorrow and really press this advantage home.”
After being flogged all around a sun-drenched Basin Reserve on Thursday, the hosts took three wickets in the first session, including that of Jonathan Trott, who failed to add to his score of 121 and was dismissed on the first ball he faced.
Kevin Pietersen (73) and Broad (six) then fell in quick succession after the lunch break to leave the visitors on 374-7 and in danger of throwing away their advantage.
The aggressive Prior, however, took up the challenge to bat with the tail as long as possible as well as move the game along.
He punished anything outside off-stump, punching the ball in the arc between backward point and extra cover for 40 of his runs, while he also produced two superb lofted straight drives for six off Neil Wagner.
Finn, who batted as nightwatchman for almost five hours in the drawn first Test in Dunedin, shared in an 83-run partnership with Prior before he was caught by Brendon McCullum at short extra cover off Wagner for 24 with less than 10 minutes remaining in the middle session.
Prior fell minutes later to part-time spinner Williamson, who also dismissed Monty Panesar in the same over to wrap up the innings and bring an early tea.
Anderson was eight not out for the visitors, while New Zealand left arm spinner Bruce Martin finished with four for 130 from 48 overs.
“I enjoyed it, there was a little bit of turn and probably more than I’ve had all season to be honest on some of the decks, it was nice,” Martin said.
“Everything seems to be going well. I’ve had 13 years to visualise playing Test cricket,” the 32-year-old added of making his long-awaited debut in Dunedin last week.
“I’ve been playing this game for a long time in my head, this Test cricket, so its nice to get out there and have a crack.
“Today was good and I picked up some pretty big wickets which I was happy with. I hope it continues.”