OPENERS Dom Sibley and Rory Burns and nightwatchman Jack Leach were all dismissed as England suffered three grievous blows in their attempt to save the First Test.
All three wickets fell in the final six overs of day four to left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner, who had earlier piled on a huge partnership with wicketkeeper B.J.Watling, who scored an historic double century.
New boy Sibley had looked all at sea against Santner and should have been caught on 12 but Watling fumbled the chance behind the stumps.
It was not costly for New Zealand, however, because Warwickshire batsman Sibley had not added to his score when he prodded unnecessarily at a wide ball from Santner and this time Watling held on.
Burns was dropped on 31 when Tim Southee, diving forward at mid-wicket, could not cling onto the chance offered against Santner.
Again, the England batsman failed to capitalise on his good fortune. He was out a few balls later.
Surrey skipper Burns attempted an ambitious slog-sweep shot and succeeded only in skying an easy catch to square leg. It was an unwise shot with only three overs remaining.
Then, to what turned out to be the final ball of day four, Leach was snaffled at short leg as he lunged forward and the ball brushed his glove.
England had lost three wickets for seven runs and it means they will have only seven wickets standing as they aim to bat throughout the final day and secure a draw.
With Santner extracting extravagant turn and bounce, it will not be an easy task.
New Zealand’s first innings turned into an orgy of records – none of them making happy reading for England’s bowlers.
The Kiwis’ mountainous 615-9 declared was their highest in history against England, surpassing the 551-9 they made at Lord’s in 1973.
In terms of balls, the innings by Watling and Santner were the longest ever played against England in Test cricket by a No.6 and a No.8.
Watling’s epic vigil, which spanned 473 deliveries, exceeded the 428-ball effort by Aussie Jack Fingleton in 1937. Sandter’s innings of 269 balls was longer than one of 243 by India’s Ravi Shastri in 1981.
Watling made the first double-century by a wicketkeeper against England and the first for New Zealand.
Even England’s total of 21 wides in an innings equals the world Test record.
Over after over, session after session went by without England taking a wicket. They actually managed just two wickets in a period of 153.5 overs spread across days two, three and four.
It is the sixth time in less than four years away from home that England have conceded more than 600 runs in an innings. Their bowlers really do struggle overseas with the Kookaburra ball when the pitch is flat and the batsmen are hungry.
Santner bats in glasses – like Leach – and accelerated after passing fifty and reached his maiden Test century with a flurry of shots. He was eventually caught on the boundary trying to hit his sixth six.
most read in cricket
TESTICLE MATCH SPECIAL
Cricket legend Sir Ian Botham bravely reveals impotence treatment after having privates zapped
The seventh-wicket stand yielded 261 runs in 83.2 overs. It drove Joe Root and his players to the edge of despair.
Southee patted back a return catch to Leach and Watling finally departed when he edged a catch off Jofra Archer. The Sussex fast bowler claimed his only wicket with the final ball of his 42nd over. Hard work for a lad in only his fifth Test and first on the road..
It was the first time Watling had been dismissed in 779 balls in Test cricket because his previous innings was an unbeaten century against Sri Lanka.