New Zealand did everything possible to give themselves a great chance of going for a victory at Headingley, which would ensure that their two year unbeaten record in Test series' remained in tact. However, they were unlucky as rain washed out a majority of day four, leaving England with the task of batting out just one day with all ten wickets in hand, that too weather permitting. Resuming at 338 for 6, New Zealand dazzled away, adding 116 runs in merely 16 overs before declaring. England's in-form openers, Adam Lyth and Alastair Cook, then added a comfortable 44 in 13 overs before rain played spoilsport, quite literally.
Only 29 overs were possible on the penultimate day of the Test, further adding to the time and overs that were lost on the opening day, when a total of 65 overs were bowled. Weather permitting, 98 overs will be bowled on the final day, on which New Zealand need to claim all ten wickets to level the series, while England require an improbable 411 runs. While a victory is completely out of sight for the hosts, an intriguing stat has emerged. The last time two sides made the same number of runs in the first innings was during the West Indies-Australia clash at Antigua in 2003. On that occasion, West Indies went on to achieve the highest successful chase in Tests.
Coming back to Leeds, New Zealand continued to impress with their bold attitude. BJ Watling carried on from where he left off the previous day, and punched his way to 120 before James Anderson had him caught at third slip with a shorter that he could only glove. That however opened up more enterprising avenues for the Kiwis. Mark Craig and Tim Southee joined forces and featured in a run-gluttony that embarrassed England. The duo added 67 in 52 balls, with Craig reaching his third fifty, and remaining unbeaten on 58, and Southee just missing out on one.
After playing and missing for a while, Southee went on thrash Stuart Broad, slamming him for three fours and a six off consecutive deliveries. To add insult to injury, Matt Henry hooked Broad for another couple of sixes as the Kiwis raced past 450, and declared. Broad had a Test to forget with the ball, as he conceded over 200 runs in the Test at an economy rate of over 6.
In response, England's openers Lyth and Cook did not look in a lot of trouble out in the middle. But, if New Zealand managed to get in a full day, things could still be tricky for the hosts on Tuesday. The Kiwis would be praying that the rain stays away. It would be a shame if the weather has the last say in a series that has been intriguing even though it has lasted less than 10 days.
-- By A Cricket Correspondent