Cricket - Prior confident of battling back

England's batsmen came up short against the swinging ball at Eden Park, but are confident they can still fight back in the second innings of the final Test.

The tourists were spared the hardship of following on after being bowled out for 204 to concede a deficit of 239 to New Zealand, Trent Boult finishing with a career-best six for 68. By stumps on day three, they had nonetheless hit back to reduce the Kiwis to 35 for three second time round - and Matt Prior is expecting a much-improved performance for the remainder of this potential series decider.

England's wicketkeeper dominated a century stand with Joe Root, but his 73 was not enough to sustain the recovery after his team had hit big trouble at 72 for five. He said: "We didn't bat well. I thought they bowled really well."

Prior added: "I know Trent ended up with the most wickets, but I thought Tim Southee bowled a couple of very good spells. Hats off. Credit to the New Zealand bowlers."

Brendon McCullum chose not to enforce the follow-on, a decision which met with an equivocal response from Prior, who stressed, however, that England's late success with the ball was a sign of their resilience.

"Either way, you're behind the eight-ball - quite considerably," he added. "We know that, and we've got to front up to that. I think we showed we are doing that, with the 20 overs we've just bowled there. To have them three for 30 was a fantastic effort.

"The way our bowlers came out again, after obviously spending a lot of time in the field this Test match, they came in and fought hard."

England's chances of victory, or even avoiding a 1-0 series defeat, are far from certain.

Prior added: "We're now in a position where we're going to need a bit of luck and a lot of skill. But if we can come in tomorrow morning and believe we can get early wickets, who knows?

"It's still a good deck. We're going to have to bat a lot better, obviously, but we can chase these runs."