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New Zealand v England – story of day four

Bad light limited England’s window of opportunity in Christchurch.

England’s long and arduous winter will end without tangible reward unless they can somehow eke 10 New Zealand wickets out of an unresponsive surface on the final day of the second Test.

Joe Root set the hosts a national-record target of 382 in four-and-a-half sessions to win and take the series 2-0 after he and Dawid Malan both contributed half-centuries as England reached 352 for nine declared, despite Colin de Grandhomme’s figures of four for 94.

Only 23 further overs were possible before bad autumnal light brought first spin at both ends and then an early close in mid-evening at Hagley Park, with the Kiwis on 42 for none.

Hard work ahead

There has been little over the past two days in a surface, which provided an intriguing first-innings battle, to suggest the remaining wickets England need will be anything other than very tough to come by. The very best Test pitches, of course, provide reasonable deterioration in the final five sessions or so. Here, there is no indication of that trend as the bounce has stayed true, a small amount of initial turn has not increased, and new-ball swing seems to have diminished too for some reason.

Tweet of the day

Stumps for the batsmen

After their final innings of the winter, England’s Test batting contingent have much to ponder. All will surely be retained for the summer ahead, for various reasons. Relative new boys Mark Stoneman, James Vince and Dawid Malan have done enough to retain their positions, without cementing them. Others such as the recently-returned Ben Stokes, wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow and captain Root can feel secure – while Alastair Cook, although badly out of sorts for the most part, of course has a record number of runs and therefore credit in the bank.

Stat of the day

Nine – Root has had little trouble getting past 50 since he did so in both innings against West Indies at Headingley last summer. But on none of those nine occasions has he managed to go on to three-figures. Many other batsmen have bigger problems – not least Cook, for example, with his paltry form at the top of the order. It is nonetheless an unenviable sequence the England captain could well do without.

What next?

One more day of Test cricket left in this long, unrewarding winter for England to try to put a win on the board at last.

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