The Difficult Third Innings Syndrome is a factor that has dogged New Zealand cricket for getting on twenty years now. The difficulty in knowing what to do with a big lead on a potentially deteriorating pitch.
It all started in Christchurch in 1997; the first test with Stephen Fleming in charge. The 186 was not the worst in this list, although the run-rate shows real nervousness. Atherton deserves praise for a match-winning innings.
There was always going to be a Pakistan test in this list. And when you’re 73/2 with a first innings lead of 170 you’d be feeling pretty good about things. But Shoaib was playing and Pakistan won it by 7 wickets.
England in 2008. From a similar position to the test above, New Zealand found themselves 264 runs ahead with only 2 wickets down. Only 29 more runs were added and Monty Panesar of all people took 6/37. Never mind, Vettori had taken 5 wickets in the first innings and 294 was a decent target on a turning pitch.
They won by 6 wickets, and Vettori took 1/111.
The almost choke. Earlier this year New Zealand had a lead in excess of 300 against India and things were on a roll. But some really unsure batting saw the hosts at 25/5 in the second innings. In the end a fourth innings target of over 400 was too much, but only by 40 runs.
There have been others, but those are the most obvious examples. There is a big test coming up here; this will be a much smaller lead