New Zealand v England, 2nd Test, Wellington, 4th day March 17, 2013

Williamson and Taylor lift NZ on rainy day


New Zealand 254 and 162 for 2 (Williamson 55*, Fulton 45, Taylor 41*) trail England 465 by 49 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

England's chances of forcing victory in the second Test were all but eliminated when Cyclone Sandra wiped out the bulk of the last two sessions at Basin Reserve. Sandra, now she has arrived, is not expected to depart quickly with persistent rain forecast for the final day. The likelihood is that England and New Zealand will head to Auckland with the series still locked at nil-all.

Even before the rain made its long-heralded arrival over lunch, the going was tough for England as New Zealand batted resiliently on a surface showing little sign of deterioration to whittle down a first-innings deficit of 211 to 58. Six overs late in the day to appease the diehards shaved off a few more.

Chief wielder of the whittling stick was Kane Williamson, a circumspect half-century secured shortly before lunch when he pulled Joe Root securely through square leg. He had 55 from 174 balls when play was abandoned. If Williamson was a boy scout, his whittling would be of such a high standard it would be enough to make him patrol leader, although not necessarily make him the chief attraction at the village show.

He played diligently and with sound technique, particularly against the quick bowlers, and if he was unsettled at times by Monty Panesar's left-arm spin, Panesar never managed to get on top of him for long. He looks mature beyond his 22 years and looks set to serve New Zealand with distinction for many years.

Williamson's third-wicket stand with Ross Taylor was worth 72 by lunch, with Taylor displaying flashes of attacking intent. It was clear for England that there would be no easy pickings against a side which has played with resolve throughout the series. At times Panesar seemed at odds with himself, or the field he had to bowl to, or the weather. Dr Panesar, as he jokes he wishes to be known these days since taking some business exams earlier in the tour, needed a spot of self-diagnosis.

England's only wicket was that of Peter Fulton, whose obdurate innings ended with a push away from his body against James Anderson and a straightforward slip catch for Alastair Cook. It was touch and go whether Anderson had overstepped, but after several replays the third umpire, Paul Reiffel, ruled in the bowler's favour. Anderson had stayed behind the line by little more than a bit of stray ankle strapping.

Anderson was variously troubled by an ankle battered by footholds that were not entirely to his taste and a back made stiff by the Wellington breeze. If he came back to Basin Reserve on a really windy day, he would get an insight about what it would feel like to be 90 years of age. Nobody would have predicted with certainty that he would get through the day unscathed but he reached lunch in reasonable order.

The aches and strains of a fast bowler's lot was enough to put him in one of his complex moods, revealed by a put-upon smile that forever seems likely to be his last. He was never more put upon than when Kevin Pietersen misfielded badly at mid-on to allow Taylor, who was on a pair, to get a single off the mark, the pressure released in an instant.

An unbroken morning session had seemed unlikely before play began. Rain was forecast, imminent rain, and the groundstaff were not overly enthusiastic about taking the covers off. But Cyclone Sandra was a playful adversary and, although rumoured to be in the vicinity, delivered nothing more than a sprinkle or two in the first few overs before taking her sport elsewhere until more extensive rain arrived at the interval. Wellington, with little more than a fortnight's water left after one of its driest summers on record, will be grateful for that.

New Zealand began 134 runs in arrears with eight wickets remaining. The pitch was still sound, the weather unsettled. England needed the ball to turn for Panesar - and not merely out of the rough. He came into the attack after seven overs and his first two deliveries did just that, bringing hope that Panesar could progress from a good containing job to potential matchwinner. He threatened sporadically all morning, but no wickets were forthcoming.

He looked a little sorry for himself, but it could have been worse. While he went unrewarded, his spin partner, Graeme Swann, recuperating from an elbow operation in the United States, tweeted that he was sick of jam and peanut butter. There is always someone worse off than you.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Cricinfouser on March 18, 2013, 1:15 GMT

    Lest you forget that England were saved by the rain in the first test. The series is fairly even at 0-0. I still think that England will pip NZ to the post in Auckland though... should the weather hold of course.

  • jared on March 17, 2013, 22:42 GMT

    One all in the weather department. Im with alot of others here who think the schedule is stupid, i like odi's and t20's before the tests but it is way to late in the season for test matches, jan and feb is the best weather not march, to all the people going on about it not raining for 40 days, thats a dumb arguement, a drought is a fluke event not the norm and even with nz cricket flukeing a drought it couldn't hold on long enough for nz crickets stupid schedule. Sorry cricket fans but this is the time of year that the wind and rain starts to return to auckland as well, just hosting a test at eden park is a good way to ruin a test let alone the weather. Thanks nz cricket for ruining a fantastic series.

  • John on March 17, 2013, 22:33 GMT

    @G.Sri on (March 17, 2013, 13:50 GMT) As has already been answered but re the 1st match the 1st day was rained off so they did try to make up overs so Dunedin was a totally different case. Thanks for your concern though

  • GeoffreysMother on March 17, 2013, 21:38 GMT

    In truth it has been dull cricket on dull wickets. England have not been good enough to force the pace in either the first or second test. However there are a couple of interesting side shows: the return of Broad to form, the development of Rutherford, the growing stature of Williamson and Southey and ..... the captaincy of Mc Cullum which suggests the NZ selectors made the right decision but did it in spectacularly bad fashion. Once Jacques Kallis retires it may be that there is not much difference between the test playing nations - with the Aussies fighting with the West Indies and Sri Lanka fighting for the bottom spot.

  • Dummy4 on March 17, 2013, 18:08 GMT

    This is shaping-up perfectly from a NZ perspective. Two dull, drawn matches on dead wickets and I guarantee the track for the final match will be a green-top with the ball doing all sorts. That then makes it a one match shoot-out for the series which puts NZ, with their handy seam attack, firmly in the hunt!!

    I'm not complaining; this is exactly how I would have played it if I was running NZ cricket.

  • Chris on March 17, 2013, 15:39 GMT

    @G.Sri - you appear to have completely missed JG2704's point. The Dunedin Test did get extra overs on the days they played. This Test didn't.

  • Srinivasan on March 17, 2013, 13:50 GMT

    @JG2704: The same rain in Dunedin saved england. Why don't you propose these 'changes' last match?

  • Michael on March 17, 2013, 13:46 GMT

    As if to prove something we already knew, the rain,so long needed in normally quite damp Wellington, arrived reinforcing the well known fact that international cricket is the best drought breaker known to man. It took it's time though-3 and a bit days in fact. If nothing else, the good burghers of Wellington may soon stop smelling. As ror the cricket that started to smell as a drought in the wickets column arrived. Flat wickets are no use to anyone.

  • Ryan on March 17, 2013, 12:56 GMT

    When you need rain, organise a cricket match. Wellington last saw rain six weeks ago.

  • Hamish on March 17, 2013, 12:13 GMT

    @FFL, that's possibly the worst one you've come up with.. And that's saying something.. Scheduling a series that has a likelihood of rain due to the climate in the hope for a series draw..? Please. Like many have said, it has not rained for more than a month,. I'm sure England doesn't have a notorious record for washed out games either..

    Really stoked for new Zealand here. As I have said numerously, this match and the previous match is virtually completely identical to the Adelaide and Perth match with aus against SA, Adelaide took it out of every aus player after dominating for so long and not getting the result, and as a result SA smashed us in the next game. And the same thing happened here, England took more confidence out of the first test than new Zealand did because of how long they batted for in the second innings and this resulted in an English domination in this test, but luckily for New zealand, rain saved them and after they draw, they have a good chance for a series win

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