Rain is Black Caps' only salvation in Leeds
The Yorkshire rain remains New Zealand’s only salvation in the second cricket test after the touring batsmen were again no match for England’s bowlers on day four.
As dark clouds descended over Headingley and the day was called off six overs early, New Zealand slumped to 158-6 at stumps, still 310 runs short of their mammoth winning target of 468.
A ninth defeat from their past 10 offshore tests is imminent unless the forecast downpours soak Leeds.
Rain is predicted from early morning, clearing late on day five. New Zealand may yet get out of jail, leaving the series 1-0 to England, but there will be little satisfaction after some inept showings with the bat.
Captain Brendon McCullum and Tim Southee were undefeated at stumps after Ross Taylor looked to have guided them to the close.
He batted 159 minutes for 70 before he became spinner Graeme Swann’s fourth victim in the gloom. Swann had figures of 4-61 to give him eight for the match as New Zealand’s limitations against spin continued.
There was plenty resting on the shoulders of openers Peter Fulton and Hamish Rutherford after the previous day’s collapse of 9-70, as they eyed a potential 159 overs to survive.
It didn’t start well. Fulton’s unhappy series ended with a snorter from Broad that reared and gave the opener little chance off the top edge, leaving him with 36 runs from four innings.
Kane Williamson has toiled diligently this series but fell lbw to Graeme Swann’s spin twice in the match. He tried to turn Swann into the on side rather than play straight, and umpire Steve Davis obliged even if it appeared high and missing leg. Williamson challenged but replays showed the ball clipping the top corner of leg stump.
With seven innings under 40 since his magnificent 171 on debut, it seemed like Hamish Rutherford’s day. He rode out the early overs and played freely as James Anderson and Broad again weren’t the same bowlers they were at Lord’s.
Again, an imminent break proved Rutherford’s undoing after a brisk 42. Just before tea he played back to Swann and touched an edge to bat-pad. Rutherford certainly looks good enough but remains too loose at test level, which a two-month stint with Essex should assist with.
It was time for the senior man to stand up. Taylor looked composed and dispatched the bad ball with some delightful cover drives. He found a good technique to Swann, playing back and across when the ball threatened the footmarks then advancing with intent to anything full.
Taylor survived a testing late period from Steven Finn, including a very close lbw shout on 47, on a pitch starting to offer variable bounce. He was given out caught behind by Davis off Swann on 60 but challenged successfully.
Dean Brownlie (25) also played Swann ably and added 79 with Taylor in 97 minutes. But Finn’s pace was eventually too much as Brownlie fended a brutal bouncer off his face to gully.
Swann sensed another collapse. Martin Guptill completed an unhappy return when the tweaker nicked him out cheaply pushing forward, and in sight of stumps Taylor yorked himself on a drive in a rare false stroke.
Having crawled along in the final session of day three, England added 171 off 35 overs today before skipper Alastair Cook called his batsmen in just after 2pm, at 287-5.
It was conservative of Cook, who didn’t enforce the follow-on with New Zealand’s batsmen mentally shot, but the way the touring batsmen had performed England didn’t need too much time.
New Zealand’s bowlers were at England’s mercy, after just 43 overs rest during their dire first innings of 174. It was even tougher with paceman Trent Boult absent, the star of the first innings who aggravated an injury to his side and wasn’t sighted at warmups.
He will likely go for scans when the team return to London on Wednesday to determine his availability for the ODI series and Champions Trophy.
Cook cruised to his 25th test century, scoring 130 before he became one of Williamson’s three victims. The off-spinner sent down 24 overs and took 3-68, while Neil Wagner (2-67) got some late rewards as England’s batsmen hit out.