England clung on to draw the final test with New Zealand in Auckland with one wicket to spare this morning.

Matt Prior ended as the hero with an unbeaten 110, after Ian Bell had defied the New Zealand bowlers for 271 balls during a crucial innings of 75.

Matt Prior

At the start of the day, Brendon McCullum's side were favourites to win the three-match series as England, chasing 481, resumed on 90/4. However Bell and Joe Root managed to survive over an a hour and a half, abetted by McCullum's surprising decision to open the bowling with Bruce Martin and part-time spinner Kane Williamson.

Trent Boult eventually sent Root back to the pavilion for a gritty 29, having used up 79 balls to the chagrin of New Zealand's bowlers. But Jonny Bairstow, who hadn't played a first-class match since August, was unable to match his fellow Yorkshireman's cussedness and departed to Tim Southee shortly after lunch.

Bairstow's departure brought Prior to the crease, and the Sussex wicketkeeper displayed all his pugnacious confidence to mix defence with attack, while Bell played the anchor role at the other end.

After almost six hours at the crease, Bell was finally dislodged late in the afternoon session, edging Neil Wagner to Tim Southee at third slip. Having removed the last of England's specialist batsmen New Zealand now appeared poised for victory, but Stuart Broad followed Bell's example, defying the home attack for 77 balls while scoring just six runs.

Although Jimmy Anderson survived just two balls after Broad's dismissal, Prior was able to shepherd Monty Panesar through the final 20 minutes of play, with the New Zealand fielders surrounding the bat. After blocking the final ball, Prior turned to the stands and raised his arms in relief, having ensured the series ends in a 0-0 draw.

England have been poor throughout their New Zealand tour, having lost their final warm-up match and been bowled out cheaply in the first innings of both the first and third tests. But after yesterday, surely their best day of the series, England can look forward this summer's clash with Australia with renewed confidence.


Prior and Broad managed to hold their ground till the final five overs of the match. New Zealand were given fresh hope in the dying moments of the match, when Kane Williamson dismissed Broad and James Anderson in the same over.

Monty Panesar managed to stay alive for three overs as England avoided a defeat just by a wicket. The three-match test series between the two nations ended in a draw as the earlier two tests had the same result.