England captain Joe Root led from the front to score a magnificent double century to give his team a chance to win the match and level the series tomorrow on day five in Hamilton.
It was a timely return to form for the England skipper who faced 441 deliveries, the longest of his career in terms of balls faced.
England were finally dismissed for 476, with Root scoring 226 of these and New Zealand began their reply 101 runs in arrears.
Opener Jeet Raval was dismissed cheaply in the second over LBW to Sam Curran without scoring and Latham followed shortly after, not able to repeat his first innings efforts. New Zealand at that stage were teetering at 28/2, still more than 80 runs behind.
Kane Williamson typically steadied the ship along with veteran Ross Taylor to guide New Zealand to the close at 96/2.
Root however will be extremely pleased with his batting effort, having managed to guide England to bat for more than 150 overs, something that has been sorely lacking in recent series.
While this will set England up for better things down the road, they still lack patience on flat surfaces with the bat, and an ability to take wickets at regular intervals. Further improvement will be required if they are to have success in South Africa.
It remains to be seen whether Root’s double hundred will take some pressure off him as captain, this may depend on whether his tactical nous is good enough to take the remaining New Zealand wickets tomorrow.
England will want to break the Williamson/Taylor partnership as soon as they can, bowl New Zealand out and leave themselves enough time to chase whatever small target is required to square the series.
The draw does seem the most likely outcome however, but one feels it will depend on New Zealand’s mindset and England’s nous to take wickets on a flat pitch.
If England are able to win from this position it would echo Australia’s amazing ambush against them in Adelaide in 2006/07, but stranger things have happened and it would do their confidence a world of good leading into the South Africa series.
Play begins on the final day at 930pm tonight.
Image courtesy of ECB via Twitter, with thanks.