NZ v England Test ends in draw

2013-03-18 07:18
Brendon McCullum (File)

Wellington - England's hopes of winning the second Test against New Zealand dissolved in a drought-breaking downpour that washed out the final day on Monday, forcing a draw which leaves the three-match series level at 0-0.

The rain allowed only 35 overs to be bowled on the fourth day and washed out all of the final day, leaving New Zealand 162-2 after following on.

England had New Zealand on the ropes when rain intervened, having dismissed the host for 254 in reply to its own first innings of 465.

With only a little more time, England would have pressed strongly for a win which would have allowed it to take a 1-0 lead into the third Test which starts Friday at Auckland.

"We managed to play ourselves into a winning position so we can take a lot of positives out of that and look forward to the next Test," England captain Alastair Cook said.

The first test at Dunedin ran its full course but also ended in a draw when New Zealand was unable to exploit its early advantage on an increasingly placid pitch.

England put New Zealand on the back foot from the opening day of the second Test at the Basin Reserve when it was sent in to bat after losing the toss.

Cook was out early for 17 but Nick Compton and Jonathan Trott made centuries - Compton his second in back-to-back innings - to give England control of the match by stumps on the first day.

Though New Zealand bowled better on the second day - with left-arm spinner Bruce Martin taking 4-130 - England reached 465 in its first innings to place itself in a solid position.

New Zealand then slumped to 66-3 by lunch and only approached the follow-on target of 265 through a 100-run, sixth-wicket partnership between Brendon McCullum (69) and B.J.Watling.

The hosts fell 11 runs short of that goal, followed on and was still under pressure at 77-1 when play began on the fourth day. But after reaching 162-2 shortly after lunch Sunday, with Kane Williamson 55 not out and Ross Taylor 36 not out, rain arrived and dogged the match for all of the last five sessions.

"In normal circumstances we probably wouldn't have enforced the follow-on but, looking at the radars, we knew we probably had 60 or 70 overs to try to bowl them out on a good wicket with tiring bowlers," Cook said.

"That's never going to be easy and the lads put an outstanding effort in to try and do that. Unfortunately, with the weather, that wasn't going to happen."

Wellington has been in the grip of its worst dry spell since 1919, parched by weeks of fine, hot weather. The drought broke at the worst possible time for England, robbing it of a clear winning chance and sending the series into a deciding Test at Auckland's Eden Park.

Both teams head to Auckland with some confidence after enjoying periods of dominance in the first two Tests, although New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum acknowledged his team had a lucky escape in Wellington.

"It was a draw at the end of the day and I guess, similar to the first test match, if there was a points decision I guess England will take this one," he said. "But both teams head to Auckland trying to make a result in the last game.

"We probably didn't bowl as well as we needed to for as long as we needed to against some quality batsmen."

New Zealand bowled England out at the University Oval for 167 in two sessions in the first Test and built a 293-run first innings lead around a debut knock of 171 by opener Hamish Rutherford.

However, it was unable to dislodge England in its second innings, frustrated in large part by an innings of almost six hours played by nightwatchman Steven Finn.

England has been critical of the quality of pitches provided for the first two Tests, saying they have been offered too little assistance to bowlers.

McCullum defended the pitches and expected more life from the drop-in pitch on which the Eden Park test will be played. "I would expect a good cricket wicket where you have to work hard for your wickets with the ball in hand and if you really commit Yourself with the bat then there are certainly some runs on offer," he said.

The pitches for the first two Tests were "not three or four-day Test wickets, they are five-day grinding wickets where you have to work incredibly hard for your fruits. But I don't see anything wrong with them and they've been pretty good and have allowed both teams to have periods of dominance throughout the test match series so far."

Read more on:    england  |  brendon mccullum  |  cricket

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