England needed just two more wickets to win the second and final Test against New Zealand when rain forced an early lunch yesterday on the fifth and final day in Leeds, England.
New Zealand were 219-8, needing a further 249 runs to reach their improbable victory target of 468 and square the series at 1-1 after England’s 170-run first Test win at Lord’s.
Doug Bracewell was 19 not out and Neil Wagner 0 not out, with only Trent Boult left to bat.
Only 48 minutes play was possible yesterday’s first session, which started late and ended early due to rain.
New Zealand, 158-6 overnight, resumed with captain Brendon McCullum 0 not out and paceman Tim Southee 4 not out, but McCullum was out for 1 when he chipped a full toss back to Stuart Broad, the tall fast bowler getting down well to hold the low caught-and-bowled chance.
That was the cue for an eighth-wicket stand of 56 between Southee and fellow seamer Bracewell.
Southee defiantly hooked fast bowler Steven Finn for six, but on 24 he was dropped by Jonathan Trott at slip after edging off-spinner Graeme Swann, continuing to pose problems after taking four wickets on Monday. Next ball Southee hoicked Swann for six.
Bracewell joined in by driving Finn for four and pulling him for six to bring up a 50 partnership with Southee in just 35 balls, but Swann had his fifth wicket of the innings, and ninth of the match, when Southee, on 38, edged to slip and this time time Trott held the catch.
The most any side has ever made in the fourth innings to win a Test is the West Indies’ 418-7 against Australia in Antigua in 2002-2003.
England’s first innings 354 featured Joe Root’s 104, the Yorkshire batsman scoring his maiden Test century on his home ground.
In reply, New Zealand made 174, with Swann taking four for 42.
Although England captain Alastair Cook was in a position to enforce the follow-on on Sunday, as New Zealand were not within 150 of the hosts’ total following Friday’s first-day washout, he decided to bat again.
Left-handed opener Cook extended his own England Test century record to 25 on Monday with an innings of 130, before declaring at 287-5. Trott defended England’s approach.
“We’ve had a great day with bat and ball and we’re in a really strong position,” he told BBC Radio’s Test Match Special. “If we’d taken the weather into consideration we might have made them follow-on. We’re 1-0 up in the series so there’s no need to chase the game, but we want to win every Test we play. You look at time and runs and you want to get it spot on, and I think we’ve done that.”