Rain washes out opening day of second test

MARK GEENTY IN LEEDS
Last updated 04:26 25/05/2013

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New Zealand have just four playing days to conjure a test series-squaring victory against England as warm sunshine finally threatens to ease the bitter cold at Headingley.

Day one of the second test was abandoned just before 4pm local time, on a day where the covers never left the pitch and a few hardy souls remained in their seats in 8degC temperatures amid icy showers of rain.

After a chilly few days of single-figure temperatures in Leeds, weather forecasters offer some hope the coin toss will finally take place later tonight and play will start on time at 10pm (NZT).

Long fine spells and temperatures of 16-17degC are forecast for Saturday and Sunday.

It means New Zealand will have to chase the game if they're serious about pushing for a 1-1 series result, after a humbling 170-run defeat at Lord's which was lowlighted by a collapse for 68 in their second innings.

Captain Brendon McCullum will no doubt be tempted to bowl first if he calls correctly, and unleash his four-pronged pace attack in the hope of dismissing England cheaply. It's their best chance in a nothing to lose match. The ball is expected to swing, depending on overhead conditions, but the pitch is dry and should prove good for batting.

New Zealand confirmed their team on test eve with two changes from Lord's.

Batsman Martin Guptill replaced wicketkeeper BJ Watling (knee), with McCullum to start with the gloves for the first time in a test since March 2010. Seamer Doug Bracewell replaced spinner Bruce Martin (calf), after Daniel Vettori ruled himself out of contention.

Vettori was summoned 24 hours ahead of his scheduled arrival with the ODI squad but, after training fully on Wednesday, told McCullum he wasn't confident of playing a full five-day test, given his lack of recent cricket and various injury niggles.

England, the world's No 2 ranked side, are expected to name an unchanged side from Lord's.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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