Radio Sandwell Sport

Matt Prior helps England pull off the great escape

2013-03-26 07:26:02

Matt Prior

Third Test, Auckland (close, day five):

New Zealand 443 & 241-6 dec drew with England 204 & 315-9

Match scorecard

England's last-wicket pair held on to secure a stunning draw in a thrilling third Test against New Zealand.

Matt Prior made a magnificent unbeaten 110 and Monty Panesar faced five balls at the death to deny the hosts a series victory at Eden Park.

Prior and Stuart Broad defended stoutly after coming together on 237-7 at tea, but Broad and then James Anderson fell in the fourth over before the close.

However, Prior and Panesar clinched the draw with England on 315-9 at the end.

It is only the third time in Test cricket that a team has gone into the final day of a match with four wickets down and avoided defeat.

The draw also means England remain above India in second place in the Test rankings and deny New Zealand what would have been only their fourth series win against them.

With Bell dismissed in the last over before tea, Prior was left with three tail-enders going into the final session.

Broad, who has been in horrible form with the bat, overturned an lbw decision, having hit the ball before falling flat on his face to a brutal Trent Boult inswinger.

The Nottinghamshire man eventually got off the mark to his 62nd ball faced, after a Test record 103 minutes in the middle.

With the tension growing on both sides, Prior almost played on but missed his leg side by the smallest of margins.

The wicketkeeper brought up their fifty partnership, having hit all the runs, and moments later brought up his seventh Test century off his 149th ball.

Boult thought he had Broad lbw to one that jagged back but he survived on another review while Prior was almost caught six overs from the end.

New Zealand looked increasingly desperate as the overs ticked down but Kane Williamson had Broad caught at slip and then Anderson fell for a duck.

That brought in Panesar and he anxiously held his nerve, despite almost being run out in comedy fashion after mistiming a dive to make his ground, to clinch a memorable draw.

England went into the series with many experts predicting a comprehensive victory following a historic series triumph in India.

However, Alastair Cook's side failed to match the high standards set before Christmas and, after two rain-affected draws, were thoroughly outplayed over the first four days after putting the hosts into bat.

Starting the day on 90-4, and with the victory target of 481 no longer relevant, England needed to bat for a minimum of 90 overs to deny New Zealand.

Bell and Root dropped anchor but fell just short of batting through the first session.

Left-arm seamer Trent Boult needed just one delivery with the new ball to break a stand of 60 - Root departing leg before wicket for 29 pushing forward to an inswinger.

Bell and new batsman Jonny Bairstow were both dropped in the final over before lunch.

The Warwickshire player was dropped at fourth slip by Dean Brownlie on 40 and then Bairstow was put down at gully by Williamson two balls later as England went in for lunch at 158-5.

Bairstow, who has played only two first-class innings since August, was out for six after the interval when he edged Southee to first slip.

Prior was given out lbw to Southee but the wicketkeeper had snicked the ball and successfully overturned umpire Rod Tucker's decision on review.

Prior kept playing his shots but had another close call when he pulled Southee high into the air, only for a diving Neil Wagner to just miss the toughest of overhead chances running back from midwicket.

Then, on 28, the Sussex wicketkeeper somehow survived when a short delivery from Wagner ricocheted from his shoulder to his helmet and then onto the stumps, but without dislodging the bails.

He survived another huge appeal from the Kiwis for a catch behind before the home side removed Bell, when he edged the ball to Southee at third slip and departed after 271-balls of resistance.

His departure left Prior as the last recognisable batsman in England's rearguard action, but he was more than up to the task.


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