New Zealand assumed control of the third and deciding Test in Auckland after England were skittled out for a paltry 204 in their first innings on day three.
Paceman Trent Boult starred with a sparkling six-wicket haul as England were 154 for eight for the day with the Kiwis establishing a mighty first-innings lead of 239 runs, before the hosts ended the day on 35 for three after opting to not enforce the follow on with Stuart Broad taking two late wickets.
Matt Prior and Joe Root were the only England players able to offer any resistance as Boult and opening partner Tim Southee thrived, scoring 73 and 45 respectively with gutsy knocks under real pressure following a dismal showing from the other batsmen in a desperate effort against the swinging ball.
Southee took three for 44 as he and Boult – who had never previously taken five wickets in a Test innings – terrorised the England batsmen with nothing more than conventional swing and disciplined line and lengths. It was an insipid showing with the bat from Andy Flower’s side in the crucial final match of a series with the hosts clearly still holding the ascendancy.
Boult had given his side the early advantage after he dismissed Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott on day two to leave England on 50 for two overnight, but few expected the tourists to fare so poorly on a wicket that had appeared to favour the batsmen early in the match when New Zealand racked up 443 in their first innings.
Nick Compton resumed on 12 in the morning session but had added just one run to his overnight tally when he was struck in front by a Southee delivery in the third over of the day. Umpire Paul Reiffel was initially unconvinced as there appeared to be two sounds, but the hosts successfully overturned the decision after TV replays showed the ball had hit the front pad before Compton made contact.
Southee swiftly trapped Ian Bell leg-before shortly afterwards as the batsman departed for a disappointing 17 with his side in desperate need of a doughty rearguard from the experienced middle-order player. He consulted with his partner Root, but the pair decided against a review.
TV umpire Steve Davis was, however, called upon again when Jonny Bairstow was trapped in front by Boult for three, with New Zealand successfully appealing the verdict to reduce England to 72 for five.
Prior and Root proceeded to dig in with a superb 101-run partnership as the tourists finally showed some resistance to frustrate the previously rampant Kiwi pacemen, with the pair resisting their natural instincts to play conservatively for their side in tough circumstances.
Prior eventually fell to Wagner after pounding 13 boundaries late in his fine innings, and he was disgusted with himself after he drove a wide half-volley from the seamer straight to Hamish Rutherford at backward point with a century seeming to be his for the taking.
Broad chipped one to the same fielder off the ebullient Boult as he fell for 16 in what was a reckless and irresponsible knock, while Steven Finn – whose resistance was so distinguished in securing the first of two draws in the series at Dunedin – departed for a tame nine-ball duck.
A hugely frustrated Root was effectively left stranded as James Anderson also fell to Boult for just four, giving the left-arm fast bowler his sixth and final wicket, and the Yorkshireman was eventually bowled by Southee with just Monty Panesar for company to conclude a horrid effort from the tourists.
With a hefty first-innings lead in the bank, New Zealand suddenly found themselves on the back foot after Broad caught out Hamish Rutherford with a delivery that bounced more than the opener expected and an attacking field in place for the final session.
Anderson continued the late attack as he overtook legendary spin bowler Derek Underwood with his 298th Test match wicket - becoming England’s fourth-highest wicket-taker – after he bowled Kane Williamson, who chopped a full delivery on to his woodwork.
Former Black Caps skipper Ross Taylor was only able to muster three before he was trapped lbw by a fired up Broad, with a subsequent review proving unsuccessful, as seven wickets fell in the match for just 12 runs.
Despite the three late wickets in the final session, the Kiwis still hold a 274–run lead heading into the final two days with the intention to bat England out of the match before targeting a series victory that would be their first against any side other than Bangladesh or Zimbabwe since 2006.