ENG vs NZ: Rain hits New Zealand's hopes of beating England in 2nd test
Leeds, England: New Zealand's hopes of claiming a series-tying win over England in the second and final test were damaged Monday by gentle but persistent rain that wiped out more than half of the fourth day's play at Headingley.
Set a world-record run chase of 455, England was 44-0 off 13 overs when rain began to fall just after lunch. The teams came off and the covers weren't removed for the rest of the day.
England trails by 411 runs, so is likely to set its sights on batting out a maximum 98 overs on the final day to secure a draw and settle for a 1-0 series victory into the upcoming Ashes against Australia. Some rain is forecast for Tuesday, too, further limiting New Zealand's chances.
"You can't control the weather," said New Zealand batsman B.J. Watling, who struck 120 in his team's total of 454-8 declared.
"But we still have 98 overs tomorrow and 30-odd with the new ball, so we are still backing ourselves to win."
As unlikely as it would be, so is England — according its batsman Joe Root.
"We are going to go out all guns blazing," Root said.
New Zealand spent the first 90 minutes of a chilly day in northern England smashing England's bowling attack to all parts of the ground. Resuming on 338-6, the Black Caps were in full limited-overs mode, scoring 116 runs in 16 overs — an extraordinary run rate of 7.25 an over.
Mark Craig was unbeaten on 58 for his third highest test score, Tim Southee swung at almost every ball to strike 40 off 24 balls, and Watling added 20 to his overnight 100.
After Matt Henry (12 not out) hooked Stuart Broad for six on the last ball of the 91st over for one last insult to England, New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum chose to declare.
The highest successful fourth-innings run chase in test history is 418, made by West Indies in 2003.
Although it was the tallest of orders for England, the pitch remained good, there was still plenty of time left in the test and the team had a deep batting order, as far down as Moeen Ali at No. 8.
Alastair Cook and Adam Lyth, who put on 177 for the first wicket in the first innings, were on 18 and 24, respectively, after a chanceless start. They were scoring quickly before the weather intervened, although New Zealand is
The tourists are known for their positive brand of cricket and it went into overdrive, pushing the innings run rate up to 4.98 an over. In four innings in the series, New Zealand scored 1,547 runs.
Watling was first to depart on Day 4 when he edged Jimmy Anderson, with Joe Root taking a diving catch at third slip. Watling, nursing a knee injury that prevented him from keeping wicket, scored his third highest score in tests.
It brought Southee to the crease and his was an entertaining knock, playing and missing on his first four deliveries before swiping Mark Wood through the slips for four. Southee then clubbed Stuart Broad for 20 off one over as the paceman pitched too short.
The eighth-wicket stand reached 50 off 33 balls and Craig passed 50 by the time Southee holed out in the deep, Anderson taking the catch off Ali.
New Zealand scored 49 fours and nine sixes in its second innings.
Headingley is one of only four venues where a score of 400 or more has been chased down — by an Australia side containing Don Bradman in 1948.