Manchester: Ross Taylor bludgeoned England's attack with a career-best 154 not out before New Zealand's bowlers followed up to leave their side in charge at stumps on the second day of the second Test at Old Trafford here Saturday.
England closed on 152 for four in reply to New Zealand's first innings 381, a deficit of 229. Kevin Pietersen was 22 not out and Ian Bell four not out after Iain O'Brien had taken an economical two for 37 in 15 overs.
New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori followed up with two for 40 in 19.
All that that took the shine off Taylor's day was when, at first slip, he dropped Andrew Strauss, then on 30, off Vettori after the opener edged the left-arm spinner.
O'Brien, recalled in place of ill fellow seamer Tim Southee for his first Test since January and only the seventh of his career, dimissed England left-handed openers Alastair Cook and Strauss.
O'Brien, 31, struck with his ninth ball when Cook was lbw and removed Strauss for 60 with the aid of a brilliant, diving, one-handed catch by wicket-keeper Brendon McCullum.
England captain Michael Vaughan, who made a century in the drawn first Test at Lord's, found runs hard to come by and needed 22 overs to make 30 before he was lbw to Vettori.
Then 141 for three became 145 for four as nightwatchman Ryan Sidebottom fell when edging Vettori to Jamie How at second slip.
Saturday's batting honours belonged to Taylor. The 24-year-old struck five sixes and 17 fours in his 176-ball stay as he recorded his second Test hundred after making 120 against England in Hamilton in March.
In partnership with Kyle Mills, whose 57 was his maiden Test fifty, he rebuilt the innings with a seventh-wicket stand of 89 after Jacob Oram and Vettori were both run out in the space of three balls.
Taylor paced his innings superbly. His third fifty took him just 42 balls with four sixes and four fours.
James Anderson, on his home ground, finished with four wickets including the last three to fall.
But the Lancashire quick conceded an expensive 118 runs in his 20.3 overs and overdid the short ball, especially against Taylor. Meanwhile Mills's stroke-filled display belied his position at No 9.
New Zealand's innings ended when they were nine down with Daniel Flynn, who retired hurt Friday after being hit by an Anderson bouncer, unable to bat. Flynn saw a neurosurgeon Saturday but was cleared of concussion.
Taylor's century was his second in his seven Tests following his 120 against England in Hamilton in March.
He spent 47 minutes in the 90s but there was no stopping him once he'd reached three figures. Taylor drove left-arm swing bowler Sidebottom over long-on for six and picked him up over deep square leg for another.
It wasn't until he'd made 142 that Taylor gave his only chance when he thrashed Sidebottom through the covers and Bell dropped a tough catch.
He went to 150 in the grand manner by hoisting Sidebottom, who took 24 wickets during England's 2-1 series win in New Zealand in March, for six high over square leg.
Oram, whose eight overs Saturday cost just five runs, had added 113 with Taylor before giving his wicket away on 38. Sauntering through for a single, the tall all-rounder failed to beat Cook's direct hit from backward point.
Two balls later, Vettori was even more careless, crossing the crease but not grounding either his bat or foot before wicket-keeper Tim Ambrose took the bails off following Monty Panesar's throw from square leg.