Tea: England 217 for 6 (Stokes 26*) trail New Zealand 427 for 8 dec. by 152 runs
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Ben Stokes defied New Zealand with an atypical, but necessary display of staunch defense on the final afternoon at Eden Park. However, such was New Zealand’s dominance over the Auckland Test that chipping away at the England middle order was sufficient to take them within four wickets of a series lead, with two sessions remaining.
After Tim Southee had Dawid Malan caught at second slip off a lazy waft in the fifth over of the afternoon, New Zealand seemed to have lost their penetration without lateral movement. Stokes and Jonny Bairstow were hardly troubled in their 39-run partnership that lasted 128 balls.
Fuller-length deliveries were easily negotiated with the old pink ball not swinging, but the shorter ones were more comfortable, a fifth-day slow pitch allowing batsmen the time to adjust.
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Nikhil Kalro is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.