x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Rain leaves New Zealand's second Test with England headed for draw

New Zealand remains 49 runs short of an innings defeat after conditions in Wellington disrupted much of the fourth day's play against England.

Umpires Rod Tucker and Asad Rauf look up at the rain as New Zealand and England players prepare to walk off.
Umpires Rod Tucker and Asad Rauf look up at the rain as New Zealand and England players prepare to walk off.

England's bowling coach believes the wickets in New Zealand have taken away the spectacle from the series as rain leaves the second Test in Wellington heading for a draw.

Downpours washed out virtually all of the two afternoon sessions at the Basin Reserve on Sunday, with New Zealand on 162 for two - still 49 runs from making England bat again.

Kane Williamson (55) and Ross Taylor (41) had combined for an unbroken 81-run partnership in New Zealand's second innings after being forced to follow on, though they were still 49 runs from making England bat again.

England's only breakthrough came in the first session when Peter Fulton prodded at a full-length James Anderson delivery and the ball flew to Alastair Cook at first slip.

Fulton's dismissal for 45 left New Zealand 81-2 and with Monty Panesar extracting turn from the pitch, the hosts were nervously facing the prospect of losing the match.

Taylor, who was on a king pair, negotiated his first delivery and got off the mark when Kevin Pietersen misfielded at mid-on, gradually growing in confidence as he fought off urges to attack Panesar, who was giving the ball more air.

Their partnership became well established as they inched closer to lunch and Williamson brought up his sixth test half century with his seventh boundary when he pulled a short Joe Root delivery to midwicket shortly before the break.

As rain fell at lunch the covers came out, with showers disrupting plans to get underway in the afternoon. The umpires decided to resume play shortly after 5pm, with 22 overs remaining in the day, but the weather turned again just six overs into the session, with the hosts having added nine runs before being forced off field.

Heavy rain is forecast for much of the final day, which comes after the first test at University Oval in Dunedin, which was also effected by rain, ended in a draw

But despite both sides producing scores in excess of 400 runs, with England batting 170 overs to save the game in their second innings, David Saker, the England bowling coach, said he felt frustrated by the wicket.

"It's not a great spectacle for test cricket when you're playing on lowish, slowish wickets and it makes it hard for batsmen to score and bowlers to prise their wickets out," Saker told reporters after play was abandoned.

"From where I'm sitting, I always like to see the ball get through and see batsmen playing off front and back foot and seeing catches behind the wicket always excites me.

"These wickets you mainly have to prepare for batsmen error and you have to be really patient so that you can build enough pressure up so the batsmen make mistakes.

"Unfortunately that doesn't really go so much for the bowlers' skills, it's waiting for the batter to make a mistake."

England's pace bowlers, who were seen as key to the test series after James Anderson and Steven Finn exploited pace and bounce in the limited over series, have been mostly nullified so far in the test series.

In the three innings so far, Anderson has bowled 70 overs and taken seven wickets for 232 runs while Finn has bowled 57-odd overs and taken three wickets for 210 runs.

While Saker felt both were one decent bowling spell away from changing the course of a match, England needed all three of their bowlers working together as a unit to put pressure on New Zealand.

"When you're trying to get teams out on pitches like this you need all three of your quicks all working really well together," he added.

"We've worked well together in patches but we know as a team when we put it together as a three quick and spinner combination we're pretty hard to handle no matter what surface we get."

The final test of the series is on a drop-in pitch at Eden Park next week, and Saker was hoping there would be more in it than they had seen so far.

"Hopefully we get a wicket that produces a good contest."

"Anyone watching the game wants to see the ball bounce through, they want to see the batsmen play off the back foot more.

"Sometimes it's a bit frustrating for the spectators."

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE