A century from Matt Prior capped off a resistant batting display in Auckland.
England managed the great escape in the final day of the third Test against New Zealand in Auckland.
Needing to bat for the whole day to draw the Test and therefore the series, England’s batsmen showed great resolve to finish with just one wicket spare.
An unbeaten 110 from Matt Prior helped the tourists get to an unlikely draw and avoid a somewhat embarrassing defeat to the team ranked eighth in the world.
England resumed day four on 90-4, with Ian Bell and new batsman Joe Root at the crease, after the visitors had lost Alastair Cook and night-watchman Steven Finn in quick succession the night before.
Bell and Root dug in and brought the score up to 150 on the morning of day five before the New Zealand attack claimed their first wicket of the day.
Kiwi bowler Trent Boult trapped his seventh victim of the match when Root was out lbw on 29 runs.
When new batsman Jonny Bairstow was out just nine runs later England’s fight was looking precarious shortly after lunch on 159-6.
Yet Prior further proved why he is currently the best wicketkeeper batsman in world cricket as he strode to the middle to battle it out with Bell.
The 31-year-old made short work of the New Zealand bowlers although he did have to ride his luck at times – a bizarre incident occurred when a bouncer ricocheted off Prior’s helmet before falling and hitting the stumps. England fans breathed a sigh of relief however when the bails did not budge.
Bell had put on a fine 75 runs before Neil Wagner made a breakthrough for the home side and had him caught by Tim Southee.
Stuart Broad joined Prior at the crease and epitomised not giving your wicket away cheaply, facing 61 balls before making a run. The pair made a 50 partnership but the ‘keeper scored all the runs.
Things were looking rosy for England before part-time spinner Kane Williamson dismissed Broad with 3.3 overs left. When the New Zealander saw James Anderson caught behind two balls later, Cook’s men faced a very tense last three overs.
No.11 Monty Panesar partnered the solid Prior at the crease. The spin bowler is not renowned for his batting but did all in his power to preserve his wicket, comically tumbling towards the bowler’s end at one point as he ran a quick single.
In the end it was fitting that Prior defended the last ball of the day to confirm a battling draw and a series saved for England.