Hamilton, Dec 3 (AFP): Centuries from Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor ensured New Zealand drew the rain-hit second Test against England in Hamilton on Tuesday, sealing a 1-0 series win.
The weather turned sour soon after lunch on the fifth day when New Zealand, having taken advantage of some sloppy fielding, were 241 for two in their second innings, 140 ahead with Taylor on 105 and Williamson on 104. With the weather denying England a second turn at bat, it ensured New Zealand’s series win after their innings victory in the first Test, and improved their record to eight wins, a draw and one loss (to South Africa) in their past 10 series.
Williamson brought up his 21st Test century with a four off Joe Root in the third over after lunch, while Taylor reached century number 19 with a flourish in Root’s next over when he smacked a four and two sixes in consecutive balls. Two balls after Taylor had raised his bat and poked his tongue out in his signature celebration, the rain arrived to wash out England’s faint hope of forcing a result although that chance had already been damaged by dropped catches.
New Zealand resumed the day at 96 for two with England hunting early wickets but their plans went off track when Ollie Pope and Joe Denly spilled simple chances from Williamson.
The New Zealand skipper was on 39 when wicketkeeper Pope put down a regulation offering off the gloves, much to bowler Ben Stokes annoyance, and on 62 Denly inexplicably dropped an even easier chance. Williamson gently chipped a slower delivery from Jofra Archer straight to Denly at short midwicket and, as the bowler leapt in celebration and Williamson made an apologetic gesture to Taylor, the ball popped out of Denly’s hands.
It drew instant comparisons on social media to the widely regarded worst dropped catch in Test history when England’s Mike Gatting put down a sitter off the gloves of India batsman Kiran More in 1993. Williamson had another life when he should have been run out on 97 but Sam Curran’s shy at the stumps was so far off line that the batsmen picked up an extra run.
Even without the rain, Joe Root’s chances of pulling off victory seemed very remote as the England bowlers toiled with an ageing ball on an unresponsive wicket. The one positive for the England captain was his return to form with a double century and man-of-the-match award after a year of averaging below 30 to give him confidence heading into a four-Test tour of South Africa.
New Zealand, meanwhile, head to Australia on Saturday for a three-Test series with the 1-0 win over England cementing their number two world ranking behind India.