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New Zealand celebrate taking the wicket of Alastair Cook at Eden Park.
New Zealand celebrate taking the wicket of Alastair Cook at Eden Park.

England edge towards defeat after being set world record chase by New Zealand

Peter Fulton claimed another century for the hosts as England finished the day 90 for 4 - chasing 481 to salvage their series.

England face only their second series defeat in New Zealand after being set a world-record 481 in the final Test at Eden Park.

Peter Fulton made history of his own for the hosts after claiming a century in each innings of the final Test.

Fulton followed his maiden century three days ago at Eden Park with an increasingly brutal display, including 14 fours and five sixes in the Kiwis' 241 for six declared on the fourth afternoon.

His stand of 117 in 101 balls either side of lunch with Brendon McCullum (67 not out) was an embarrassing passage of play for England in which the short straight boundaries at this peculiar ground took a relentless hammering.

The tourists were left needing to bat four and a half sessions to rescue a third successive draw - and in notional pursuit of a record 481, with three still to go they were 90 for four.

Alastair Cook, on the back of a rare first-innings failure, took it upon himself to try to put things right on a pitch still favouring the batsmen - but was gone by stumps after a painstaking 43 from 145 balls.

There was no hiding place for England's bowlers today, Monty Panesar suffering in particular as New Zealand extended their lead in the six-hitting contest here to 16-1.

England set out with hopes of either bowling New Zealand out cheaply, or alternatively restricting the run rate.

Haplessly, they achieved neither as Fulton and then McCullum made a mockery of last night's stumble to eight for three by the hosts.

Fulton and Dean Brownlie, who had batted out seven successive maidens yesterday, were soon operating at a very different tempo.

The tall opener tucked into James Anderson and Stuart Broad from the outset as England went full in search of elusive swing and were regularly driven.

England's misery was compounded when Broad hatched a plan against Fulton, but saw a trademark flick off his pads put down by Anderson at short midwicket.

Fulton escaped on 31, having already brought up the 50 stand with a drive down the ground for four off Anderson.

It was not until England switched to Panesar that a breakthrough came, Brownlie up the wicket in the slow left-armer's first over but not quite getting enough on his attempted hit over the top and very well-caught by Ian Bell at a deep and wide mid-on.

If that brought fleeting hope for the tourists it was a cruel illusion.

Fulton and McCullum went into overdrive, the former breaking a succession of 27 dot balls from Panesar by passing his 50 with a fierce drive down the ground for his 10th four.

He swept another boundary off the next ball, and celebrated immediately with his first straight six - at the start of five-over spell which cost Panesar, and England, 52 runs.

Fulton completed his 162-ball hundred with a straight six from the crease into the north stand off Broad in early afternoon.

There was minor respite at last when he pulled Steven Finn to long-on, but McCullum inflicted a little more pain - and passed his 50 in just 45 balls - before he was satisfied.

New Zealand's innings finally closed with nine England fielders positioned on the boundary, to both McCullum and BJ Watling.

When the tourists began their last stand, the contrast was extreme - all the more so after Nick Compton was caught behind pushing forward at Tim Southee in the second over.

The other conspicuous variable was that, as in the first innings, New Zealand were able to swing the ball much more than their opposite numbers.

Wicketkeeper Watling missed a much tougher chance to see off Cook for just a single, diving low to his left off Southee, and it took the introduction of Neil Wagner after tea to break the second-wicket stand when Jonathan Trott tried to drive the left-armer from round the wicket and edged behind.

Cook and Bell retreated to near strokeless defiance, the captain's crawl attended by a partner who took 19 balls to break his duck and then added just six more runs from another 70 deliveries.

For England, though, the wickets column was the only one that still mattered.

When Cook edged a drive at part-time off-spinner Kane Williamson for a sharp catch at second slip by Brownlie, and then nightwatchman Finn went in similar fashion in the final over, that too was none too clever.

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