Rain stymies New Zealand's victory bid

Rain stymies New Zealand's victory bid

New Zealand's hopes of forcing a series-levelling win in the second Test against England were dealt a blow after rain washed out most of the fourth day's play at Headingley today.

The Black Caps thrashed England's bowlers for quick runs to leave the hosts facing a record chase to win the match.

But England, set a huge target of 455 for victory, were 44 without loss when gentle but persistent rain stopped play.

In all, only 29 overs were possible on Monday -- 13 in England's second innings -- before the umpires called off play for the day at 4:59pm local time (1559 GMT).

New Zealand will now have a minimum of 98 overs on Tuesday's final day to take the 10 wickets they need to end the series all-square at 1-1 after their 124-run defeat in the first Test at Lord's last week.

Adam Lyth, who scored a maiden Test hundred in the first innings, was 24 not out on his Yorkshire home ground.

England captain Alastair Cook, who in the first innings became England's highest run-scorer in Tests, was unbeaten on 18.

Earlier, New Zealand flayed the new ball all over Headingley as they extended their overnight 338 for six to 454 for eight declared.

In the face of some wayward bowling with the new ball, the Black Caps struck 116 runs in just 16 overs before captain Brendon McCullum called a halt.

England were left needing 455 for victory, with the most any side have made in the fourth innings to win a Test the West Indies' 418 for seven against Australia at St John's, Antigua, in 2002/03.

England's corresponding record is 332 for seven against Australia at Melbourne back in 1928/29.

When McCullum declared, there were 171 overs left in the match but Monday's rain all but ended England's slim hopes of victory, with a New Zealand win or a draw now the two most likely results.

BJ Watling resumed on exactly 100 not out after becoming the first New Zealand batsman to score a Test hundred at Headingley.

Mark Craig, 15 not out overnight, was dropped on 23 when a diving Stuart Broad at mid-off failed to hold a tough chance off James Anderson.

It was estimated dropped catches had cost England 250 runs in the series and 182 in the second innings of this match alone.

Anderson's second delivery with the new ball removed Watling for 120, third slip Joe Root holding a fine catch.

England's cause was not helped when Ian Bell failed to move for a chance offered by Tim Southee off Anderson.

Southee cashed in, scoring 20 runs off Broad's first over including 18 in boundaries off four successive balls.

He swung Broad backward of square for four and then drove the paceman straight back over his head for a superb six.

Southee followed with a bottom-edged pull for four then drove the next delivery through the covers for another boundary.

The big-hitting Southee fell for 40, off just 24 balls, when he drove off-spinner Moeen Ali to Anderson at long-on.

But it made little difference with New Zealand hammering Broad, who repeatedly bowled too short and, like many of his team-mates, didn't use the yorker, for 19 runs in the last over before the declaration.

That over featured three sixes, one a straight drive by Craig and two from tailender Matt Henry, who ended the innings with a pull that sailed high over deep square leg.

Craig's unbeaten 58 not out included 42 runs in boundaries -- nine fours and and a six.

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