Stokes sent the home side back to bat with a 226-run deficit midway through the third morning, hoping to wrap up a series before the day was out.

That was entirely in keeping with the tenor of his reign, during which he has pulled every lever available to push for positive results, including his bold statement earlier in this match.

That mentality has served England well so far, with 10 wins from 11 Tests under his leadership, but New Zealand did everything they could to derail his plans. At stumps they were just 24 behind on 202 for three, with a 149-run stand between openers Tom Latham and Devon Conway putting hard yardage on the bowlers’ legs.

There is more hard work ahead to build on his advantage, but Collingwood said: “It was very clear this morning. Stokesy spoke to the guys and said ‘if we get a chance to continue we’ll enforce it’.

“He was very clear on that and that’s the focus of Stokesy and Baz (McCullum, head coach). They want the aggressive option and hopefully win the game today. It didn’t turn out that way, but we are still in a very good position.

“The mantra for this team is to always take an aggressive approach and there was no doubt in Stokesy’s mind that given the chance, that was the path he would take. We’ve always said we’re not afraid of losing, but we want to put ourselves in a position to win games and we feel like we could have won, or come close to winning, today.”

Despite England overcoming 94.2 overs of laborious and grueling work over the course of the day, the all-rounder Stokes contributed in only two of them. He has been dealing with a long-standing knee problem for some time and has to distribute his interventions with the ball more and more.

Here, he pulled off two sharp and ready overs after tea, was warned and no-balled for bowling too many bouncers and ended the spell after Jack Leach got the much-needed breakthrough at the other end.

“Look, as we all know, he has a knee problem, luckily he’s the captain and he makes the decision when he pitches or not,” Collingwood explained.

“Stokesy was happy to go for other options and is also very confident in his team and the other bowlers. It’s been a good day. Yeah, he did come up a little short a couple of times, so that’s the only caveat from him there. He’s going to have to be careful if he resorts to that plan again.”

England won their last four games against the Black Caps last year, imposing their style on the reigning Test world champions, but they were prepared for the kind of late resistance they displayed at Basin Reserve.

“When you’re up against quality opposition you expect them to fight hard and this was one of those days,” Collingwood said.

“You will have days where it will be hard work and that is Test cricket. It’s exciting and has set up what could be a great test match.”


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