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England captain Alastair Cook was struggling for answers to his side's repeated first Test stumbles as he conceded they were lucky to escape with a draw against New Zealand in Dunedin.
Starting an overseas tour struggling for survival is not new for England, and while they aimed to be more positive in New Zealand their plans backfired with a 293-run first innings deficit.
They were forced to occupy the crease in their second innings for nearly two days to salvage the match, reaching 421 for six -- a lead of 128 runs -- when the rain-interrupted first Test ended on Sunday.
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum felt they could have toppled the world's second-ranked side had the Test not been reduced to four days because of the weather, and Cook did not argue with that.
"We've been lucky in one sense to escape with a draw, certainly," Cook said.
"That's a huge reminder that if you don't perform, you don't deserve to win anything.
"When you get bowled out for 160-odd in the first innings on a good wicket you are always going to be struggling and facing an uphill battle just to save the game. After they were 130 for none, it was pretty much damage limitation from there on."
Cook said there were similarities with England's last Test against India at Nagpur in December, when they batted for nearly two days to win the series.
"We reminded the lads that they done it before and there's no reason, if we applied the same mindset, we couldn't do that (again). The character to dig ourselves out of a hole is very pleasing," Cook said.
England have not won the opening match of a series against a major Test-playing nation since beating South Africa at Port Elizabeth in 2004-05, and Cook was stumped for an explanation.
"It's a thing we talked about before the series, something that we recognise, (that) we have started overseas series poorly for a while now," he said.
"It's something we wanted to address, but unfortunately our actions didn't back up our words, and it's very hard to come back from the situation we found ourselves in."
Cook (116) and Nick Compton (117) laid the groundwork for the survival against New Zealand with a 231-run opening partnership and they were ably backed by a stubborn nighwatchman Steven Finn.
He ground out 56 while, importantly, occupying the crease for nearly five hours, finally being dismissed at the start of the final session of play when the draw was almost certain.