Ottis Gibson has admitted England are under pressure after a chastening third day of the second Investec Test at Headingley but remains confident they can chase down a large fourth-innings total.
The balance shifted in New Zealand’s favour in the final session as BJ Watling’s unbeaten century helped lead the Black Caps from 143 for four at tea to 338 for six at the close, with England having earlier matched the tourists’ first-innings score of 350 all out.
The Kiwis continued to follow their aggressive instincts with the bat, going at a run rate of four-and-a-half an over, and they will now be heavy favourites to claim a 1-1 series draw over the next couple of days.
Gibson, England’s bowling coach, said: “We are under a bit of pressure, there’s no question about that.
“The way they’ve played both innings, an attacking brand of batting I guess ... we haven’t been good enough at containing them.
“In both innings, they’re scoring at nearly five an over ... and I was sitting there thinking that the one-day series hasn’t even started yet. But that’s the way they’ve played.”
Yet Gibson believes there is enough spirit in their own batting line-up to make a total edging towards the world record the West Indies made against Australia in 2003.
“The world record is 418, so anything under that, we’re capable of doing,” said the former West Indies coach.
“There is still a lot of time left in the game.
“If we can get a couple of wickets quickly and have 370 to chase, perhaps with the amount of time left in the game, who knows?
“In the past when people have had to chase a score they might have to do it in 80 or 90 overs; if we have to do it in two days, with the character I’ve seen in the dressing-room since I’ve been back, that is possible.”
New Zealand will enter day four with Watling still at the crease after a marvellous 100 not out from 137 balls with 13 fours and a six.
Opener Martin Guptill, who earlier made 70 from 72 deliveries, said: “He played beautifully. That’s what BJ does, he comes in and fights hard, and he played a very fluent innings.
“We’re not going to see too many better than that coming in, four for 140-odd was a tough little spot to be in.”
Guptill and Ross Taylor (48) put on a remarkable 99-run partnership in just 87 balls after the Black Caps had lost two early wickets to lay the platform for Watling and captain Brendon McCullum (55).
“It was a great day. We fought hard this morning to pick up three quick wickets and then we let them get away a little bit,” said Guptill.
“But (after) being two for not many, I think Ross, right from the outset, really brought a bit of impetus to the innings and I just fed off him.
“We ran well between the wickets, rotated the strike, managed to put the bad balls away and I think that set the day up for BJ and Brendon to do their thing as well.”
Ominously for England, Guptill remarked that the pitch is starting to get tougher to bat on.
“A few balls have kept low and a few balls have gone through the top as well so it’s going to be tough batting over the next couple of days and hopefully our bowlers can exploit that when we come out to bowl again,” he added.