Rain requires NZ to keep sights on victory

New Zealand's bid to finish the summer as the third-ranked team in Test cricket could be foiled if bad weather continues to disrupt the Bangladesh tour and prevent any results in the two Test matches.

Today's heavy rain in Hamilton for all of the morning and well into the afternoon left the covers saturated in water, and the outfield pooled with puddles.

There was a brief period when the skies lightened and a break in the weather looked possible. However, no sooner had the ground staff started their preparations than the weather closed in.

Lunch was taken at the regular time of 2pm but almost straight afterwards the umpires, Dave Orchard of South Africa and Tony Hill of New Zealand called play off for the day and scheduled the start for 11.30am tomorrow with play continuing until 7.30pm.

New lighting towers are in place at the ground and if there is a problem with the light they will be brought into use.

There was a long period without rain later in the day, but the ground staff had commented it would take them at least three to four hours to prepare the ground and there would not have been sufficient time left to make a start.

There are genuine prospects for play tomorrow with heavy rain warnings to the east of Hamilton having been withdrawn.

New Zealand needs to win this National Bank series, and then beat England later in the summer to achieve that goal.

But without a success against Bangladesh, New Zealand would not be able to pass Sri Lanka on the table. If Sri Lanka beat Zimbabwe it would retain its points and remain on 1.14.

If New Zealand beat England, but had been unable to take a win from a drawn Bangladesh series, whether by rain or Bangladesh defiance, then it would end the summer on 1.13.

The only way to avoid that would be the unlikely event of Zimbabwe taking pre-existing points off Sri Lanka by drawing or winning the series.

The more bad weather reduces the time available in matches, the tougher it gets for New Zealand to claim the required victory.

There is also the possibility that the International Cricket Council could decide that if one match was abandoned without a ball being bowled, the series had become a one-Test series and that the series was then discounted as a Test series for the purposes of the ICC Test Championship.

The forecast for tomorrow is not especially bright and every hour of without play minimises New Zealand's chances to take a result from the match.

So it is in New Zealand's interests to get play in whenever they can in the series to try to force a result, a different form of pressure, but pressure nonetheless. And certainly a handy vehicle in the fight against complacency if, in fact, that had ever been a problem.