After a very well poised end to the first two innings of the test match, with both teams ending their innings at 350, England would have wanted to knock NZ out cheaply and get back to score the runs a take away the series 2-0. However NZ had other plans as a sensible innings from McCullum with a blaze from Guptil on the 3rd day helped NZ reach a respectable total before Watling hit his stride.
Watling who has been in great form throughout the tour ended the third day exactly on a 100 and with England already trailing by 338 runs, NZ with 4 wickets in hand wanted to get as many as they could before putting England to bat.
The new ball was due in just 5 over’s and England at the start of day 4 would have wanted to wrap up the innings in the first hour of play. However, Watling and Craig had other ideas. Still putting the bad ball away, both batsmen started the game in normal pace and showed their intent on staying at the grease for a long time and scoring big.
Watling was timing the ball perfectly and played a mater-class as he never allowed the England bowlers to settle down into a rhythm. By the time the new ball was taken, NZ were already 361 runs ahead and looked to have already scored enough to make the English batsmen think twice about chasing it.
However McCullum had no thoughts of declaring and wanted to bat England completely out of the game. The second over with the new ball produced a wicket and that of Watling. Anderson got one to bounce a bit more and hold its line as Watling nicked it to Root who obliged happily. This ended a great innings of 120 by the wicket keeper batsman.
With NZ at 368/7, Cook would have already been thinking about coming out to bat but Craig who was on 25 was settled and was joined by Tim Southee. Southee who was swinging at every ball in the beginning started playing sensibly added 67 important runs to the NZ score and took it past the 400 mark.
By the time Southee was removed by Ali for 40 of 41 balls, New Zealand were already at 435 with two wickets in hand and were already giving the English a world record to chase.
The next over in the game after Southee perished went for 19 runs as Broad was hit for 3 sixers. This pushed the score above the 450 mark and McCullum straight away asked his batsmen to end the innings. After declaration, England was given a target of 455 in just over 5 sessions.
The number of dropped catches by England didn’t cost them much in the first game but this time around, it could cost them the match as the English were now chasing a world record to get anything from the match.
With 455 to score, Boult and Southee, the new ball pair of the New Zealand bowling attack had plenty to play with. But the sun coming from the clouds meant that the conditions were a bit better to bat. Cook and Lyth started the game in similar fashion trying to frustrate the bowlers and picking them away whenever they miss their lines.
Cook looked determined to play a big innings and Lyth, fresh from a century was starting to find his stride in the 4th innings. England would have been happy going into the Lunch break without losing a wicket and having scored 32 runs. Cook was on 17, Lyth on 23.
However, after four over’s were bowled in the post lunch session, it started pouring down at Headingly. One of the most closely contested matches in the recent past was now in danger of getting washed out. With only 13 over’s bowled England could not make huge strides into the runs needed column. But they will be silently happy as they no longer have 5 sessions to bat to save the game.
With the forecast for the 5th day also cloudy, New Zealand who played exceptionally in the series might have to settle for a draw in this game. With nothing less than 100 over’s to be bowled tomorrow, it promises to be a great encounter between the bat and the ball.