Prior drives England to 465
Matt Prior and Kevin Pietersen helped to push England up to a teatime 465 all out on day two of the second Test against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve.
Pietersen's painstaking half-century was the slowest of the innings, following Jonathan Trott and Nick Compton's studied progress to twin hundreds yesterday, and also his first significant contribution of the tour.
The ever reliable Prior (82) then upped the ante with a 77-ball 50, and an eighth-wicket stand of 83 with Steven Finn, to ensure England did not miss their opportunity to cash in on Trott and Compton's hard work.
The tourists were in danger of doing so after Trott fell to the first ball he faced this morning - one of three wickets before lunch - and then Pietersen (73) and Stuart Broad went in successive overs in early afternoon. Bruce Martin (four for 130) was rewarded for 48 overs of honest toil, on a surface offering little to the seamers but increasingly hints of spin for the slow left-armer.
It was Trent Boult's left-arm pace which had done for Trott, though, when he got a thin edge behind to a delivery slanted conventionally across him.
With a rainy forecast still in place for the final two days here, there was an obvious temptation for England to try to press on in this middle match of three - with the series level at 0-0 after a Dunedin stalemate last week.
Pietersen gave an indication of his intent when he greeted the introduction of Martin by going up the wicket and hitting him for six over long-on first ball. Ian Bell, however, could never get going and managed only 11 from 46 balls before he revisited the most infamous aberration of his international career. His attempt to hit Martin over the top resulted in a skewed drive high to wide mid-off - an uncanny repeat of his golden duck at the hands of Pragyan Ojha in Ahmedabad four months ago - and Peter Fulton made Bell pay again with a fine catch. Pietersen survived a caught-behind chance, mishooking Tim Southee over the head and through the gloves of BJ Watling on 40, then completed his 50 with a back-foot force off Martin for just his fourth boundary from 112 balls.
But Joe Root soon fell to the spinner, caught behind trying to drive a wide ball that turned and bounced a little, and Pietersen's dismissal was a near repeat of Bell's - save the fact he tried to do his hitting from the crease.
Stuart Broad was gone in the space of five balls, edging Boult behind off the back foot - leaving Prior to bat with the tail, as he so often must. He had an in-form partner, though, in Finn - fresh from his famously determined maiden half-century in Dunedin last week.
Prior dominated their partnership as his innings went from worthy to expert, particularly with two straight sixes off the pace of Neil Wagner. As ever, he served England well - until their last three wickets fell in the space of 11 balls. Finn drove Wagner straight to short extra-cover; Prior's reverse-sweep at Kane Williamson failed to clear short third-man, and Monty Panesar edged the part-time off-spinner to slip.