Lunch New Zealand 209 and 325 for 5 (Williamson 63*, Blundell 19*) lead England 435 for 8 dec by 99 runs
England had a still-new ball to aid their efforts and Ollie Robinson struck early on the fourth morning to remove Henry Nicholls, with New Zealand two runs from parity. They also removed Mitchell for a run-a-ball 54, caught top-edging another aggressive shot off Stuart Broad, but Tom Blundell made a busy start in benign conditions to help push the lead to the brink of three figures by the lunch interval.
Williamson, who became New Zealand’s leading Test run-scorer with a flick for four from the fourth ball of the day, remained the key man. He was content to bob along at his own pace, scoring 38 runs during the session without many alarms – the closest England came to dislodging him was an attempted stumping off Jack Leach, but although Williamson had dragged his back foot out of the crease, his reflexes were quick enough to get a toe over the line as Ben Foakes whipped off the bails.
He added just two further boundaries to his tally, swatting a pull off Broad and easing Robinson off the back foot, having reached his fifty from his 148th ball with a trademark nurdle into the leg side.
The former captain was overtaken by a somewhat frenetic innings from Mitchell, who boshed his way to a 52-ball half-century, reaching the milestone by hoisting Leach into the stands at long-on. Mitchell had opted to target James Anderson shortly after coming to the crease, thrashing England’s seam-bowling totem for three fours and ensuring he was taken out of the attack after just two overs.
He was also proactive against spin, regularly looking to sweep and reverse-sweep, and seemed content to chance his arm in an attempt to wrestle some momentum New Zealand’s way. But he fell in ungainly fashion, top-edging a hack across the line at Broad with the keeper up to be caught by Root backpedalling under a steepler at slip.
England picked up their fourth wicket in the eighth over of the day, with New Zealand still in arrears. Nicholls had flirted with danger throughout his innings of 29, and was held at third slip the ball after missing an attempted forcing shot off Robinson. This time the edge flew hard and high to Harry Brook, who held a juggling catch at the fourth attempt.