The 4th day at Leeds did not produce much action as the match was abandoned due to rain, with just 3 over’s into the second session. New Zealand having batted really well, posted a target of 455 for victory and England had a solid start with Cook and Lyth starting off in confident fashion before rain stopped play.
England ended day 4 at 44-0 with Cook on 18 and Lyth on 24 at the crease trying to play as many balls as they can. They would have thanked the rain and hoped that their batting order would negotiate the whole day before going out to bat but it was never going to be easy on a fifth day pitch.
With an England victory made impossible by the rain, New Zealand started to attack from the first over with men in catching positions. The huge target meant that McCullum had no issues of leaking runs. But it was the pressure applied early by the New Zealand bowlers that bought the downfall of the England opener.
After a lot of persistence, Boult finally found the edge of Lyth and sent him packing for 24 leaving England at 47-1 and looking down at a long days play. Cook was joined by Balance, who looked a bit out of sorts in the first innings. He didn’t last long here as Tim Southee produced a ripper of an in-swinger and stuck timber. Balance was dismissed for 6.
Cook was joined by Bell and England would have hoped to start a partnership of sorts to get some momentum in the innings but just one run later, Craig got Bell for 1 playing down the leg side giving a simple catch to the leg slip in place.
Just two balls later Craig picked Root up but the wicket should go to the fielder at short leg as Root hit the ball sweetly. Latham had no time to react but held onto the ball to remove Root for a duck. England were reduced to 62-4 from 61-1 in a span of 3 over’s and New Zealand were running away with the match.
Cook was still going strong and was joined by Ben stokes. They put on a partnership of 40 runs playing out some valuable time. But just before the lunch, Kane Williamson was given the ball. The idea was to give him two overs before lunch, probably to give the main bowlers a rest. However, Kane found the outside edge of Stokes and sent him back for 29.
England went to Lunch at 102-5, with Cook on 40 who was just joined by Buttler. After lunch, both the batsmen came out positively and gave the bowlers something to think about. Cook bought up his fifty and continued his impressive form. But Williamson who was given another go, turned out to be a match winner.
A silent over suddenly turned into celebration as Cook was given out lbw playing in front of the wicket. Though it was reviewed, Cook had to leave for a well played 56. England was down to 145-6 and the inevitable defeat was staring at them. Ali and Buttler put on another 6 runs before Matt Henry castled Moeen Ali’s stumps from round the wicket.
However, they did not go down without a fight as Broad and Buttler brought the score to 188. Broad lost his wicket for 23 as he dragged on a delivery from the golden armed Williamson. Wood joined Buttler and lifted the England total to above 200 before tea. After tea, Buttler reached his half century before Wood fell to Southee.
Anderson and Buttler put on another 20 runs and pushed England above 250 but as Craig got one to straighten, the finger lifted against Buttler and he was the last to fall. The NZ finished a 199 run victory and leveled the series 1-1. It was a well deserved victory, as England was outplayed in the second half of the match.
The man of the match was BJ Watling for his tremendous effort in New Zealand’s 2nd innings. The England Player of the Series nominated by Mike Hesson, went to Alastair Cook, for his fine form in this series, topping the run-scoring. The New Zealand equivalent, nominated by Paul Farbrace, goes to Trent Boult for his 13 wickets in the series, joint top with Stuart Broad.
The first match between the teams ended in a close fought victory for the hosts. New Zealand was in a great position in the first test as well but gave away the initiative and lost the game. But they came back aggressively and drew the series 1-1. This was a great advertisement for the game of cricket.
Even the first innings scores of the two teams in the second test showed how closely contested this series was and how talented these group of players are. It has been a great series for the neutral and it is games like these that prove that the Test format of the game is one of the most interesting sporting events.