England insist they got their declaration "spot on" despite giving New Zealand hope of a draw in the second cricket test due to a bleak weather forecast on day five.
Home skipper Alastair Cook batted on until 2pm local time on day four at Headingley, by which time England had racked up 287-5. It left New Zealand needing 468 to win in 159 overs if weather didn't intervene.
Rain is forecast for much of day five in Leeds although England shouldn't require too much time to complete a 2-0 series sweep with the tourists teetering on 158-6 and spinner Graeme Swann sitting on eight wickets for the match.
Batsman Jonathan Trott defended his skipper's decision.
"I thought we got it spot-on to be honest, we set out to get a certain total in the time we wanted. To get six wickets was also a good day of test cricket to place us in a good position," said Trott who scored 76 off 164 balls.
"When you're in a position of 1-0 you can let the game take its course. I don't think you have to chase it. You don't let the weather dictate how you play.
"It's a dry pitch, you don't want to be batting last on it. You make a sacrifice and get in a hole. We wanted a big lead to make it difficult batting last, that was the idea."
If rain does wash out the final day then Cook will cop it from his home press. On New Zealand's recent efforts it's little surprise they are struggling to get past 200, let alone more than double that.
The highest successful test run-chase is 418-7 by the West Indies against Australia in Antigua in 2003-04, and the New Zealand record is 324-5 against Pakistan in Christchurch in 1993-94.
New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor, who top-scored with 70, said the only satisfaction from a rain-affected draw was that it would be "better than a loss".
"I guess the longer England batted the more respect they showed for us," Taylor said.
"They've dominated the game but if the rain comes tomorrow we'll see whether they did the right thing."
"England are in the box seat and we need a little bit if help, and we'll have to wait and see when we pull back the curtains in the morning. Something similar to the first day [wash-out] would be handy."
Taylor kicked himself for getting out just before bad light ended the day, when he played over the top of a Swann delivery. He'd wanted to bat out the day then cross his fingers.
"He's a world class bowler and had a bit of assistance with the foot marks," Taylor said.
"He kept asking questions the whole innings. I felt comfortable against him and obviously I'm disappointed to get out two overs before the finish."
He had a souvenir for his 159 minutes of toil, too, with three bruises on his upper right arm from Steven Finn thunderbolts.
"A few of the boys were commenting it's a little tattoo going on - three on the same spot about one centimetre apart."
Taylor said New Zealand's batsmen needed to be a lot tougher on themselves, and they'd let themselves down with their past three innings.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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