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Cricket: New Zealand Thwarted in Third Test Draw by Brave English Effort

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 26:  Kane Williamson of New Zealand bowls to Monty Panesar of England during day five of the Third Test match between New Zealand and England at Eden Park on March 26, 2013 in Auckland, New Zealand.  (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Gareth Copley/Getty Images
Jeff CheshireAnalyst IIMarch 26, 2013

When its not going your way, sometimes it just is not going your way. 

New Zealand must have had something of that feeling as they came within a whisker of an historic tests series win over England. 

Two late Kane Williamson wickets gave them a glimmer of hope in the dying stages of the last session, but it was not to be as Matt Prior batted bravely to ensure the test and series was drawn.

The dominant position New Zealand found themselves in has become something of a rare thing in recent times. After all they are ranked eighth in the world, coming off one of the worst beatings in their history in South Africa just months ago.

It perhaps this inexperience in the latter stages of the game that prevented them from closing out what had been otherwise a very good performance. Although it was not necessarily all their fault. Certainly they were subject to an dosage of bad luck, as twice the ball was to hit the stumps only for the bails to remain in place.

But the fact remains that the bails did not fall off, a couple of crucial catches went to ground and the game finished off a draw.

Which begs the question is there such a thing as a good draw?

In this case for New Zealand, the answer is most probably a yes. Of course they will be extremely disappointed to have let a win escape from their grasp. But having been in the cellar of world cricket for so long, being in a dominant position on the fifth day of a test match is very much a refreshing situation for New Zealand to find themselves in.

Provided they learn from this and find the ability to turn these draws into wins, for now a draw was a positive result.

The foundations were laid early by a strong first innings batting performance, anchored by Peter Fulton who scored an impressive 136 in his maiden test century. He was joined for the most part by Kane Williamson, who added 91 for the total before being dismissed early on day two just short of making a century of his own.

Brendon McCullum, Hamish Rutherford and Dean Brownlie all chipped in, while a quick fire 44 from Tim Southee saw them declare for an imposing 443.

The New Zealand bowling attack was then spearheaded by Southee and Trent Boult as they tore through the English top order and left Prior to pick up the pieces. Boult finished with figures of six for 68, while Southee finished with three for 44, picking up the three key wickets that saw England's top order dismantled.

After an early second innings scare, New Zealand rallied as Fulton claimed a second century, while a 67 from McCullum made for an all but impossible target for England to chase.

But they never gave up and after a top order collapse which saw them reeling, with Ian Bell, Matt Prior and Stuart Broad all digging in to save a test that finished in dramatic circumstances. 

With the series having finished a draw, the return tour in little over a month will now have added significance as both sides will have plenty to play for. May just cannot come soon enough.

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