England and New Zealand will both be dreaming of victory after a match of high scoring transformed into one of high drama at Trent Bridge, with the Kiwis 224 for seven at stumps, nursing a lead of 238.
“I’m pretty confident there’ll be a result,” said Michael Bracewell. “We just want to get as many runs as we can then go about taking those 10 wickets.”
Having started the game by putting their opponents in to bat and seeing them accumulate 553, England remarkably go into the final day looking marginal favourites to win.
“I think when you’re that many behind you’re not really thinking about the end result, you’re just trying to bat well enough to not lose the game,” added Ben Foakes. “But you do know things can happen quickly and pitches can deteriorate.
“It’s a fantastic game. It’s taken a while to get here but tomorrow is a great prospect.”
After bowling England out for 539 in the opening hour New Zealand made a cautious start to their second innings, only to lose five wickets for 110 in the final session to blow the game wide open. Along the way Will Young and Tim Southee were both run out while Bracewell hit 25 off 17 before steering a simple catch to mid on. “We like to play positively as a side and like to win games of cricket and my plan was to go out and be super positive,” Bracewell said.
The 31-year-old debutant had earlier found plenty of encouragement in the day four surface, adding both Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson to the wicket of Ben Stokes that he had taken on Sunday, and could have a significant influence with his spin on the final day. He may need to, with Kyle Jamieson unlikely to bowl because of a back injury.
“I think the wicket’s deteriorating nicely for us,” he said. “I’m excited to get out there and bowl. The England team might come up with a few different plans to play me, so it’s an opportunity to test myself against some of the best players in the world.”
For all England’s much-publicised positivity, New Zealand more than matched it with their determination to force a result when they could easily have pushed the game towards a stalemate. “I think the draw comes at the end if the win’s not possible, rather than the other way round,” said Bracewell.
“Tomorrow if we have to bowl a little bit more negatively towards the end of the day we’ll play that way, but we’re always trying to win games of cricket.” England scored almost 400 runs over the course of day three and will hope to end up with a target they can chase, in front of a crowd swelled by the decision to make tickets available for free. “We want to chase as little as possible but realistically, with how fast it’s been scoring, under 300 would be quite doable if we bat really well – and with some of the guys we’ve got in the dressing room it could be anything really,” Foakes said.