|Second Test, Christchurch (Hagley Oval), day four:|
|England 307 & 352-9 dec: Vince 76, Root 54, De Grandhomme 4-94|
|New Zealand 278 & 42-0: Latham 25*, Raval 17*|
|New Zealand need 382 to win|
England set New Zealand a daunting 382 for victory on the fourth day of the second Test in Christchurch.
Resuming on 202-3, Joe Root (54) and Dawid Malan (53) played patiently but fell to the old ball in an attritional morning session at the Hagley Oval.
England’s lower order, led by Jonny Bairstow’s 36, hit out after lunch to help the visitors declare on 352-9.
However, Tom Latham (25) and Jeet Raval (17) guided the Black Caps to 42-0 before bad light ended play early.
New Zealand, who have a 1-0 series lead, will require their highest Test run chase if they are to consign England to their sixth loss in their past seven Tests.
Their previous highest fourth-innings chase is 324-5, which they made against Pakistan in 1994.
Joe Root’s side will be looking to end a difficult winter on a positive note while the hosts, who need another 340 runs to win, are aiming for their first home series win over England since 1983-84.
Play will begin at 23:30 BST on Monday, with 98 overs set to be bowled.
England look to end dismal away record
After a winter that has included a 4-0 Ashes defeat and a dreadful batting performance in Auckland, England found themselves in the rare position of setting a commanding total away from home.
But they are a side low on confidence and that showed in an unsure morning session where the game drifted.
New Zealand were keen to use up as much time as possible – leading Jeremy Coney to remark that „it is very hard to score runs when the ball isn’t being bowled” – and England were content to play patiently.
Root notched his seventh half-century of the winter, followed closely by Malan, and batting appeared easy as captain Kane Williamson delayed taking the new ball.
However, Malan slapped a Colin de Grandhomme delivery straight to mid-wicket before Root once again failed to build on a promising start as he flashed at Neil Wagner and nicked the ball through to wicketkeeper BJ Watling.
In 13 innings this winter, Root has made 520 runs at 43.33 and finished top of England’s batting averages. However, he has not converted any of his seven half-centuries into three figures, with his highest score the 83 he made in Adelaide.
England’s lower order came, played their shots and went in quick succession but it was a reprieve of Jonny Bairstow on two, when he survived an appeal for caught behind off Trent Boult, that shut New Zealand out.
A replay showed Bairstow had got a slight edge on a drive but New Zealand were without any reviews and Bairstow made hay, thrashing 12 runs off Boult before eventually holing out for 36.
It has given England enough of a chance to end an away record that, since the beginning of 2016, is worse than all but Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
Latham & Raval stand tall for NZ
Black Caps openers Tom Latham and Jeet Raval have struggled against England. Raval had, prior to today, not reached double figures in the series while Latham fell for a duck in the first innings here.
In tough conditions that offered assistance to the bowlers, the two played a determined innings.
They survived early scares. Raval’s outside edge was beaten consistently and he took a nasty blow to the ribs off Stuart Broad, while Latham was dropped on 23 by James Vince at third slip when he edged a drive off Anderson.
However, the problem for England, as it has been all winter, is that the back-up bowlers often struggle to sustain the pressure applied by Broad and Anderson.
Two of Mark Wood’s first three deliveries were thumped for four by Latham as he went too full. He dropped too short the over after, and was pulled by Raval to relieve some pressure on the 29-year-old.
Spinner Jack Leach, on debut, performed better. He found turn and bounce, particularly to Latham, and was able to hold up an end as Root rotated the seamers.
Leach, who with 54 first-class appearances for Somerset is experienced at bowling on the last day, will play an important role as England search for their first Test victory of the winter.
„England have also got to keep an eye on the over-rate,” BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew said on Test Match Special.
„If New Zealand are nine down tomorrow evening when the light goes, they’ll be kicking themselves.”
‚The draw is the favourite’ – what they said
Ex-England spinner Graeme Swann on TMS: „If Jack Leach is nervous tomorrow and thinks the pressure’s on him to win the game, he won’t bowl well.
„I love Joe Root to pieces, but his textbook is a bit old-school Yorkshire cricket. I’d like him to throw that textbook away.”
Ex-England spinner Vic Marks: „England can win, but I think the draw’s now the favourite. Someone like Jack Leach has got to get three or four, which he’ll have to work hard for.
„Kane Williamson can block, I think Latham may be inclined to, though I don’t think Colin de Grandhomme will. A lot of modern players feel more comfortable when they play their shots.”
Former New Zealand batsman Jeremy Coney: „Raval’s had to work hard, but you give him a little tick for his stickability today because it’s not been easy for him.
„Anderson couldn’t get the ball to swing, so he’s relying on trying to hit the pitch hard to get the ball to move, and Broad looked a bit down on pace.”