Wellington: Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor and persistent light rain on Sunday ensured that New Zealand's second Test against England at the Basin Reserve is most likely to end in a damp draw on Monday.
The hosts were on 162 for 2 after the rain had disrupted much of the fourth day's play with 39 overs lost after lunch and 16 overs at the end of day due to more rain after play had resumed after long lunch break.
Williamson (55) and Taylor (41) had combined for an unbroken 81-run partnership in New Zealand's second innings after being forced to follow on, though they were still 49 runs from making England bat again, before they were forced off again and despite attempts to restart, play was abandoned due to persistent rain.
New Zealand's MetService has forecast a southerly change and persistent rain for the Wellington region throughout Monday and a draw is now the most likely result. If there is no play on Monday the third and final match next week at Auckland's Eden Park now looms as the series decider after the first Test at University Oval in Dunedin ended in a draw.
England's only breakthrough came in the first session when Peter Fulton prodded at a full-length James Anderson delivery and the ball flew to Alastair Cook at first slip. Fulton's dismissal for 45 left New Zealand 81 for 2 and with Monty Panesar extracting turn from the pitch, the hosts were nervously facing the prospect of losing the match.
Taylor, who was on a king pair, negotiated his first delivery and got off the mark when Kevin Pietersen misfielded at mid-on, gradually growing in confidence as he fought off urges to attack Panesar, who was giving the ball more air.
Their partnership became well established as they inched closer to lunch and Williamson brought up his sixth Test half-century with his seventh boundary when he pulled a short Joe Root delivery to midwicket shortly before the break.
Light rain then began falling at lunch and groundstaff placed covers over the wicket block at the start of the break, but the pitch was uncovered when play was due to resume at 1310.
Umpires Asad Rauf and Rod Tucker came out to inspect the wicket in brilliant sunshine only for showers to sweep back over the ground minutes later and encase the ground at the southern edge of the central city in misty drizzle.
Tea was taken at the usual time with a further pitch inspection at 1530 and a decision was made to resume play at 1550 before another rain shower swept across the ground.
Rauf and Tucker returned for two further pitch inspections once it had stopped raining and decided to resume play at 1710 with 22 overs remaining in the day's play. Light rain, however, resumed just six overs after play restarted with New Zealand adding nine runs before they were forced off again for the final time.
England captain Alastair Cook had enforced the follow-on after bowling New Zealand out for 254 shortly before tea on Saturday, with the hosts 12 runs short of the required target to put the tourists back in and well adrift of England's 465.
Stuart Broad had rattled through New Zealand's lower order with figures of 6 for 51 and Bruce Martin was left stranded on 21 not out before Cook asked New Zealand to bat again at tea.