World Test Championship: Blackcaps staring at series whitewash with England in control of third-test run chase

New Zealand are staring at a series whitewash against England, with the hosts needing only 113 runs for victory in the third test at Leeds.

Already 2-0 up in the series, England reached the close of play on the third day at 183/2, on course to chase down the 296 run target set by the Blackcaps.

Ollie Pope is not out with 81 and will be joined by Joe Root, 55 not out, on day five - with their unbeaten 132-run partnership steering what would be England's third successful run chase in a row.

Tom Blundell was left stranded on 88 in the Blackcaps' second innings.
Tom Blundell was left stranded on 88 in the Blackcaps' second innings. Photo credit: Image - Getty Images

The Blackcaps will be desperate for early wickets on the final day, as they bid to avoid a 3-0 series defeat.

Resuming at 165/8 and ahead by 137 runs, the overnight pair of Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell returned to the crease, trying to give the Blackcaps as large a lead as possible.

England were hit before play had even started on day four, as wicketkeeper Ben Foakes tested positive for COVID-19 and was replaced in the line-up by substitute Sam Billings.

Mitchell and Blundell guided the Blackcaps to lunch without further loss at 254/4, with Blundell notching a half-century after the break. Mitchell passed fifty for the sixth time in the series soon after. 

At 274/5, Mitchell departed, when he was trapped leg before wicket by Matt Potts for 56, and was soon joined back in the pavilion by Michael Bracewell, caught by Zak Crawley, off Jack Leach.

Tim Southee added two, before he became Leach's next victim, out bowled, while Wagner was caught behind by Billings without adding a run to the total.

In the dash for quick runs with only Trent Boult for company, Blundell opened up and played a series of strokes against Potts.

But at the other end, Boult departed to give Leach a second-innings five-wicket haul and a maiden 10-wicket match haul, with figures of 10/166 across both innings, leaving Blundell stranded on 88 not out.

Chasing 296 for victory, England opener Alex Lees was run out by Kane Williamson and Trent Boult for nine, before Crawley hit Bracewell straight to the Kiwi skipper at cover, out for 25 at 51/2.

But Crawley's exit saw Root join Pope and the pair played freely to eat into England's target. Pope passed 50 in 66 balls, while Root joined him after 78 deliveries. 

And on a fourth-innings surface showing no major signs of wear after the first four days, the Blackcaps will need to pull a rabbit out of the hat, if they're to avoid a 3-0 series defeat.

New Zealand 329 & 326 (Blundell 88 not out, Mitchell 56; Leach 5/66) England 360 & 183/2 (Pope 81 not out, Root 55 not out; Bracewell 1/70)