England pull off an exciting draw

England pull off an exciting draw

Prior slams battling unbeaten ton as visitors deny Kiwis the win

England pull off an exciting draw

Wicketkeeper Matt Prior produced a belligerent century to ensure England saved the series-deciding third Test against New Zealand at Eden Park on Tuesday, despite Kane Williamson taking two late wickets that almost snatc­hed victory for the hosts.

Prior (110 not out) took up the responsibility of seeing the tourists home after Ian Bell had defied New Zealand for almost six hours, as England finished on 315 for nine, after they had given up chasing the 481 needed for victory on the fourth day.

With England looking comfortable in the final hour, Williamson grabbed two wickets in three balls to bring Monty Panesar to the crease but the left-arm spinner and Prior saw out the final 19 deliveries to ensure the series was drawn 0-0.

“Clearly quite gutted, we were so close, the boys tried everything,” Williamson, who finished with figures of four for 44, said in a televised interview.

“It went down to the last ball and just gutted that we didn't come away with the win.”
New Zealand had been seeking just their ninth Test win in 97 matches against England, and their first series victory against them since Stephen Fleming’s team achieved a 2-1 series win in England in 1999.

Neil Wagner had captured the crucial wicket of Bell just before tea to push New Zealand to the verge of victory.

Bell had curbed his natural attacking game to play the anchor role, plodding his way to 75 from 271 balls, but surrendered three balls before the break when he prodded at a Wagner delivery.

Prior battled on to his seventh Test century and was ably supported by Stuart Broad who had a lbw decision overturned on review and provided obstinate defence taking 62 balls, and 102 minutes, to get off the mark.