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New Zealand had the scent of an historic victory as England lost the valuable wicket of Joe Root to be 158 for five at lunch on a tense final day of the deciding Third Test on Tuesday.
The damage could have been much worse for England had New Zealand made the catches stick as two regulation chances were put down in the slip cordon in the last over of the session.
Ian Bell survived to be not out 41 after he was dropped by Dean Brownlie and Jonny Bairstow was put down by Kane Williamson to be unbeaten on six.
England, set an improbable world-record fourth innings target of 481, faced a battle for survival in the final two sessions to avoid losing a series to New Zealand for the first time since 1999.
The first two rain-disrupted Tests in the series both dwindled out into draws but this Eden Park Test in Auckland has offered five days of fine weather and made a result likely.
New Zealand will resume after lunch with the new ball only three overs old and with the pace pair of Trent Boult and Tim Southee finding plenty of movement.
After England started the day at 90 for four, Root and Bell had added 60 in 28 overs as they cautiously sought to bat out the day and the runs did not matter.
But their stand came to an end with Boult's first delivery with the new ball pitching around and swinging smack into Root's pads.
He discussed the possibility of a review with Bell but decided the weight of evidence was firmly in favour of the dismissal and Root walked.
On the first ball of Boult's next over, the last over before lunch, Bell was dropped by Brownlie and he scampered through for a single to get away from the bowling.
Two balls later, Bairstow needlessly pushed at a Boult delivery only to see Williamson spill the catch.