By Andrew Alderson at Headingley
The synonym jar is almost empty to describe the narrow margins in the cricket test series between England and New Zealand.
The same applies in the third and final test at Headingley. The visitors hanker to claim something tangible as runners-up, yet the hosts' nerve have consistently held to win the key moments.
Stumps on the fourth day brought that same sense of familiarity. England had moved to 183 for two in the chase for 296 with Joe Root 55 and Ollie Pope 81 after New Zealand were dismissed for 326.
Under normal circumstances that would mark a challenging target in a fourth innings, but given the current Baz-ball enlightenment period under new coach Brendon McCullum, nothing is beyond the realm.
England have already hauled in 277 and 299 at Lord's and Trent Bridge respectively. A calculated gamble looms across 90 overs – but more likely fewer - on the final day. So far they are cruising.
Root's highlight came reverse scooping Neil Wagner for six to bring up England's 100. Such audacity must surely make the short-list for the eighth wonder of the world as the forward defence hurtles towards extinction.
New Zealand's lowlight came with dud lbw reviews against Root from consecutive deliveries in the 14th over.
The wickets came via a combined piece of Trent Boult-Kane Williamson alley-oop brilliance from mid-off to run out Alex Lees at the non-striker's end in a mix-up with Zak Crawley. Williamson was again in the action to catch Crawley miscuing Michael Bracewell.
The onus goes on the off-spinner to extract the increasing turn and variable bounce in the second innings. His figures of one for 70 from 11 overs means the scrutiny is intensifying, as England target him as a vulnerable link.
The idea of anointing him to scythe through the opposition order in his second test was queried from the outset, given he had 30 first-class wickets at an average of 46.83 heading into the match.
That's exacerbated due to left-arm orthodox Ajaz Patel, the third man in test history to take 10 wickets in an innings last December against India at Mumbai, sitting in the pavilion. He has bowled two overs since his 14-225 match feat.
Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell eked out crucial runs, as has become customary across the series.
Initially they offered nothing flashy, just positive intent. Then came some flourishes.
Mitchell reverse swept Root with relish to break up his spin rhythm and Blundell, the consummate touch player, started whipping balls away using the power of his wrists.
The pair produced a 113-run sixth-wicket stand to take the Black Caps to 274 before Mitchell was adjudged lbw to Matthew Potts for 56. His 538 runs at an average of 107.60 are the most by an overseas cricketer in a series of three tests or fewer in England. That's some feat when you consider tests have been played in the country for 142 years.
The odd dicey moment pervaded. Mitchell was adjudged lbw to Jack Leach on 17 at 206 for six, but a review prompted DRS to reveal a BFG-like stride forward and the ball hitting the knee roll. The predictive path bounced over the stumps.
Blundell was found lbw four balls prior to Mitchell's dismissal, again to the tenacious Potts in the same 91st over, but the angle from over the wicket suggested the ball was missing leg stump.
He finished 88 not out.
Potts finished with three for 66 from 25 overs, while Jack Leach mopped up the tail to take his second five-wicket bag of five for 66, and earn match figures of 10-166.
Mitchell and Blundell faced the second most deliveries of any partnership during a series in test history. At stumps that had come from a sample size of 46,797…
Their 1417 balls is only bettered by Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Carl Hooper's 1511, also across six innings when India visited the West Indies in 2002.
The pair's fourth resurrection of a New Zealand innings across the tour brought them into exulted company.
Four other duos have had as many century stands in a series. David Boon and Mark Waugh combined five times for Australia in the 1993 Ashes; Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe completed the feat four times for England in the 1924 equivalent; Vijay Hazare and Rusi Modi did likewise for India against the West Indies in 1948; and Pakistan's Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan were equally prolific against India in 2006.
England's main setback occurred to start the day. Ben Foakes, who was described as having a back twinge yesterday, tested positive for Covid. Sam Billings replaced him.