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New Zealand's Ross Taylor counter-attacked with the bat after James Anderson struck twice on his way to 300 Test wickets at Lord's on Friday.
New Zealand, at tea on the second day of the first Test, were 54 for two in reply to England's first innings 232, a deficit of 178 runs.
They were in dire straits at seven for two after Anderson, who started the match on 298 Test wickets, struck twice to remove openers Hamish Rutherford and Peter Fulton.
But former New Zealand captain Taylor, finding the boundary with a frequency beyond England's top order despite the still overcast conditions, hit six fours on his way to 32 not out.
Kane Williamson was 11 not out, with the current partnership of 47 the highest of the match so far.
The 30-year-old Anderson, in his 81st Test, did not have long to wait for his 299th wicket after taking the new ball.
One ball after Rutherford had cover-driven him for four, Anderson squared him up with a delivery that swung away, and England captain Alastair Cook, diving to his right, held an excellent low catch at first slip.
Anderson struck again when Fulton nicked a good length ball, low to second slip Graeme Swann.
Lancashire paceman Anderson had taken two wickets for no runs in 17 balls and in the process become only the fourth England bowler after Fred Trueman, Bob Willis and Ian Botham to reach the landmark of 300 Test wickets.
Earlier, no England batsman managed a fifty in an innings where Jonny Bairstow's 41 was the top score.
Tim Southee, who removed Joe Root and Matt Prior with successive deliveries, did the bulk of the damage as England lost four wickets for nine runs and finished with a return of four for 58 in 28.2 overs.
England resumed on 160 for four, with Root 25 not out and Bairstow three not out.
The young Yorkshire duo kept New Zealand at bay for more than an hour after the new ball was taken in Friday's first over.
Root came into the match, his home Test debut, on the back of making 179 for the second-string England Lions against New Zealand.
But there was no similar success on Friday.
Southee made the breakthrough with a bad ball down the legside only for Root, on 40, to see his glance caught by wicket-keeper BJ Watling.
Prior had frustrated New Zealand with a superb unbeaten hundred that ensured a draw and a 0-0 result in a three-match series when the teams last met in Auckland in March.
But the wicketkeeper was lbw first ball Friday to Southee. Prior reviewed Steve Davis's decision but the Australian umpire's verdict was upheld.
Stuart Broad survived the hat-trick but he was soon plumb lbw for nought to left-arm seamer Neil Wagner.
Bairstow was last man out, caught and bowled by Southee to end nearly three hours' of resistance.