Rain halts England’s dominance of New Zealand


England’s dominance of New Zealand was only halted by rain on day two of the second Test in Wellington.

Three wickets each for James Anderson and Jack Leach reduced the home side to 138-7, 297 runs behind.

England’s relentless bowling and sharp catching – bat-pad man Ollie Pope claimed two superb grabs off Leach – had raised the prospect of the tourists being able to enforce the follow-on.

That decision will have to wait for Sunday after rain arrived to wipe out almost two hours of play in the evening session.

England had earlier moved from their overnight 315-3 to 435-8 declared, crashing 120 runs in less than two hours.

Harry Brook was out to the seventh ball he faced for 186, but Joe Root continued on to make 153 not out.

Play on day three will once again begin at the earlier time of 21:30 GMT in order to make up some of the overs lost on the opening two days.

Ruthless England surging towards landmark win

This is turning into England’s most commanding performance of the winter, a ruthless dismantling of a New Zealand team that is a shadow of the one crowned world Test champions two years ago.

Both teams have found themselves 21-3 in this match, but whereas England launched a stunning counter-attack in the shape of Root and Brook’s 302-run stand, the Black Caps meekly folded.

The notion of the follow-on is a question yet to be posed to England under captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum.

If they can dismiss New Zealand for less than 236, would the more aggressive option be to bat in the second innings and build an unassailable lead, or send the hosts in once more and hunt victory by an innings?

Either way, England are on course for their seventh consecutive win and 11th in 12 Tests, while New Zealand are set to slip to their first home series defeat in six years.

Anderson and Leach run through Black Caps

Anderson was far from a regular in the England team when he was called into the side to play at this venue 15 years ago, alongside Stuart Broad for the first time.

Anderson took 5-73 in the first innings and Test cricket’s most prolific bowling partnership was born.

On Saturday, Anderson returned aged 40 and ranked as the world’s number one bowler, once again running through the New Zealand top order with what appeared to be effortless skill.

Devon Conway feathered an edge that was detected by an intelligent England review, an out-of-sorts Kane Williamson offered a needless poke and Will Young was undone by extra bounce – all three men caught by wicketkeeper Ben Foakes.

Anderson will resume on Sunday with the chance to become the first 40-year-old pace bowler to take a five-wicket haul in a Test since Sydney Barnes in 1914.

Left-armer spinner Leach was into the 13th over of an unbroken spell when the rain arrived.

He first had Tom Latham, who battled to 35, caught by Root at slip off a reverse-sweep. Given out on the field, Latham reviewed. Replays showed the ball hit the armguard, but TV umpire Aleem Dar also detected a flick off the glove.

Then Pope, under the helmet, pulled off his two one-handed stunners.

Henry Nicholls, on 30, attempted another reverse-sweep only for the ball to deflect off his body to the diving Pope.

On the stroke of tea, Leach got extra bounce to Daryl Mitchell and Pope brilliantly anticipated, stuck out a hand and held on incredibly close to the bat.

Michael Bracewell patted a catch back to Broad just after the break, leaving captain Tim Southee to club 23 in support of Tom Blundell, who was 25 not out when the rain came. (BBC Sport)

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