For the second day in a row, rain came to New Zealand’s rescue in the second cricket test, saving it from an even greater mauling by England.
On the first day the rain came after only 65 overs when England already was 315-3. With Harry Brook making 186 and Joe Root an unbeaten 153 in a 302-run partnership, England was able to declare its first innings at 435-8.
And when the rain came again on Saturday not long after tea, New Zealand was 138-7, still 297 behind. Tom Blundell was 25 and Tim Southee on 23.
James Anderson with 3-37 and Jack Leach with 3-45 wrecked the New Zealand first innings and sent the home team to the locker room in a light shower, welcoming the chance of a reprieve.
Brook dominated New Zealand on the first day and was 184 — his highest test score and fourth century in five tests — when the rain came on the first day. Root was 101.
Brook faced only seven balls Saturday before he was out for 186 but Root turned his 29th century into the 13th score of his career in excess of 150. From the start of the day, England appeared to be racing towards a declaration and it came this time after 87 overs.
“I certainly felt I found a way to manage the situation throughout this game,” Root said. “At the time I did it was great to be able to just calm things down and wrestle a bit of momentum back in our favor.
“When you’re batting at the other end to Brook at the minute he’s making your life a lot easier. It was quite nice to bounce off him and we restore that calmness in the dressing room. A partnership like that is always going to set things up nicely.”
James Anderson once again took apart the New Zealand top order as he or Stuart Broad had done in England’s win in the first test at Mount Maunganui. He dismissed Devon Conway (0) with only the fifth ball of the New Zealand innings, then had Kane Williamson (4) and Will Young (2).
New Zealand’s recovery was led by Tom Latham who made 35 and raised the total to 60-4 before he swept at Leach and was caught at slip by Root as the ball grazed the top of his glove.
Leach then removed Henry Nicholls (30) and Daryl Mitchell (13) to reassert England’s superiority. Southee and Blundell helped a little to steady New Zealand before the rain came.
The New Zealand bowlers also enjoyed a little success early on the second day and with the older ball, though England always was hurrying to a declaration.
That rain which fell lightly throughout the night appeared to have freshened the Basin Reserve pitch and there was movement for the seamers and turn for spinner Michael Bracewell even before New Zealand took the second new ball after 80 overs.
Brooks’ forceful innings came to an end in an ironic manner. He played rare straight-bat defense at a ball from Matt Henry but made such sweet contact that the ball carried back to the bowler who made a juggled catch.
Ben Foakes dismissal was also ungainly. The England wicketkeeper attempted to flick a ball from Bracewell down the leg side but lost his balance, toppled forward and was stumped by his opposite Tom Blundell.
Ben Stokes stepped outside leg stump to thrash a ball from Neil Wagner through the covers but only managed to spoon it to the substitute fielder Scott Kuggeleijn. Ollie Robinson also fell to Henry who ended with 4-100.
The world’s best test bowler, Anderson, didn’t take long to add to his haul of 7-54 from the first test, dismissing Conway in his first over.
The ball passed the outside edge of Conway’s bat without making much of a sound. But Foakes and the slip field went up and convinced Stokes to review the not out decision. Replays clearly showed a faint edge.
Williamson who has been chronically out of form dangled his bat at a ball from Anderson which was wide of off stump and going away, presenting an easy catch to Foakes.