New Zealand are left hoping for the Headingley weather to save them tomorrow after ending day four just four wickets away from a series whitewash thanks to another four-wicket haul from Graeme Swann.
England began the day in their second innings and declared on 287 for five to set New Zealand a theoretical 468 to win. The tourists hadn’t managed that many runs in all three of their previous Test innings on tour combined so it was always unlikely.
They began well initially but it wasn’t to last as Peter Fulton’s horror series continued when he received a brute of ball from Stuart Broad in the eighth over and fended it to Ian Bell in the gully. Kane Williamson then hung around for a while alongside Hamish Rutherford, who played fluently, but both were sent packing by Swann before tea.
Williamson tried to adopt the method used so effectively by Hashim Amla last summer against Swann in moving across his stumps to counter the spin. Unfortunately, he forgot one important detail - to hit the ball - and was struck on the pad and give out LBW despite reviewing. Rutherford’s sprightly innings was ended at 42 off 51 balls when, playing for spin, he edged to Joe Root at short-leg.
Those two wickets continued the trend in this match of wickets falling in clusters and that was to prove the case again towards the end of the day. Dean Brownlie’s partnership with Ross Taylor was ended at 79 by a vicious bouncer from Steven Finn which caught the glove and gave Bell his second catch in the gully.
It was then back over to Swann, who had new man Martin Guptill caught by Jonathan Trott at slip courtesy of a ball that didn’t spin, and ended Taylor’s classy knock at 70 by tempting him into a drive and bowling him through the gate.
Taylor had again looked a class above the rest of the New Zealand batsmen on show in compiling that innings. He drove with flair and was, as ever, attacking in his mindset.
Unfortunately, he again failed to go on and only bad light saved the tourists from a possible defeat inside three days. They will again be left relying on the weather tomorrow, with the forecast not looking good - Headingley perched on the edge of a band of slow-moving rain.
Earlier in the day, Alastair Cook had completed his 25th Test century and seventh as England captain. He and a more energised Jonathan Trott extended their second-wicket partnership to 134 before Cook fell for 130. Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow then added cameos of 28 off 22 balls and 26 off 22 balls before Cook called his side in just after lunch.
If England are thwarted in their pursuit of a win tomorrow by the weather, then Cook’s century will, however, be forgotten and instead he will be left fielding some difficult questions such as why didn’t he enforce the follow-on and what was the reason for Trott’s go-slow yesterday evening. He will be hoping the rain stays away and his bowlers can clean up New Zealand’s lower order quickly in order to avoid them.
© Cricket World 2013
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