Wellington: England's hope of winning the second Test against New Zealand dissolved in a drought-breaking downpour that washed out the final day on Monday, forcing a draw which leaves the three-match series level at 0-0. The rain allowed only 35 overs to be bowled on the fourth day and washed out all of the final day, leaving New Zealand 162 for 2 after following on.
England had New Zealand on the ropes when rain intervened, having dismissed the host for 254 in reply to their own first innings total of 465. With only a little more time, England would have pressed strongly for a win which would have allowed them to take a 1-0 lead into the third Test which starts Friday at Auckland.
"We managed to play ourselves into a winning position so we can take a lot of positives out of that and look forward to the next Test," England captain Alastair Cook said.
The first Test at Dunedin ran their full course but also ended in a draw when New Zealand were unable to exploit their early advantage on an increasingly placid pitch. England put New Zealand on the back foot from the opening day of the second Test at the Basin Reserve when they were sent in to bat after losing the toss. Captain Alastair Cook was out early for 17 but Nick Compton and Jonathan Trott made centuries - Compton his second in back-to-back innings - to give England control of the match by stumps on the first day.
Though New Zealand bowled better on the second day - with left-arm spinner Bruce Martin taking 4 for 130 - England reached 465 in their first innings to place themself in a solid position. New Zealand then slumped to 66 for 3 by lunch and only approached the follow-on target of 265 through a 100-run, sixth-wicket partnership between Brendon McCullum (69) and B.J.Watling.
The hosts fell 11 runs short of that goal, followed on and were still under pressure at 77 for 1 when play began on the fourth day. But after reaching 162 for 2 shortly after lunch Sunday, with Kane Williamson 55 not out and Ross Taylor 36 not out, rain arrived and dogged the match for all of the last five sessions. Wellington has been in the grip of its worst dry spell since 1919, parched by weeks of fine, hot weather. The drought broke at the worst possible time for England, robbing them of a clear winning chance and sending the series into a deciding Test at Auckland's Eden Park.
Both teams head to Auckland with some confidence after enjoying periods of dominance in the first two Tests, although New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum acknowledged his team had a lucky escape in Wellington.
"It was a draw at the end of the day and I guess, similar to the first Test match, if there was a points decision I guess England will take this one," he said. "But both teams head to Auckland trying to make a result in the last game."
New Zealand bowled England out at the University Oval for 167 in two sessions in the first Test and built a 293-run first innings lead around a debut knock of 171 by opener Hamish Rutherford. However, they were unable to dislodge England in their second innings, frustrated in large part by an innings of almost six hours played by nightwatchman Steven Finn.