HAMILTON: Skipper Kane Williamson posted his 21st Test century and veteran Ross Taylor his 19th in a record partnership that ensured New Zealand win the two-match series 1-0 after the second Test ended in a draw here on Tuesday.
New Zealand’s most successful Test batting stymied the tourists attack until shortly after lunch when rain began to fall and washed out the last two sessions at Seddon Park.
By that stage Williamson, who was 104 not out, and Taylor on 105, likely had already done enough to save the match. Their unbroken 213-run partnership New Zealand’s best for the third wicket against England had steered the home team to 241-2, a lead of 140 after they had started their second innings 101 runs behind England.
Both reached their centuries in the short passage of play about 17 minutes between lunch and the rain.
Williamson brought up his from 230 balls in just over five hours and with 11 boundaries.
Taylor did so, more spectacularly, with a six off the bowling of England captain Joe Root, from 184 balls, in 274 minutes with 11 fours and two sixes. At 83 he became, in his 96th Test, only the second New Zealander after Stephen Fleming (7,172) to surpass 7,000 runs in Tests.
“It was a great fighting effort over the last couple of weeks,” Williamson said. “We know what a great unit the England side is and to lose both tosses and show that fight that we demand of ourselves as a unit was really pleasing.”
Root must have known at the start of the day that his team’s chances of achieving a win to tie the series was slight at best. New Zealand were already 96-2, just six runs behind, and the real threat of rain that hung over the day meant time wasn’t on his side.
England needed early wickets and a vital break through literally slipped through their hands when Joe Denly dropped Williamson from the bowling of Jofra Archer when the New Zealand captain was 64 and the total 154-2, a lead of 53.
Williamson ballooned a catch to Denly at short mid-wicket, probably the easiest chance he will ever receive, and the fieldsman had two grabs at the ball before putting it down.
As Taylor and Williamson ground on relentlessly through the lunch break and as storm clouds crept up on Seddon Park, Root saw his team’s chances dissolve.
“It was a shame about the rain,” Root said. “It was a shame about losing sessions earlier in the match. We felt if we didn’t lose those the pitch might deteriorate slightly quicker and might have done a little more for us coming into this last day.”
Root had done everything in his power to give his team a winning chance. His 226 in England’s only innings, his third double-century in Tests and his first as captain, lifted his team, along with Rory Burns’ 101 and Ollie Pope’s 75, to 476 in reply to New Zealand’s 375.
With New Zealand 28-2 in their second innings late on the fourth day, Root must have felt some confidence in England’s chances.
But Williamson and Taylor stood in his way and proved an impassable roadblock.
England now head to South Africa for a challenging four-Test series. With their performance in Hamilton their confidence will be higher than after last week’s first Test loss which came hard on the heels of the Ashes defeat at home.
“I think we’ve learned a lot as a group,” Root said. “We learned about people in these conditions, how they go about different situations, how they react to it and what their characters are.
“There’s been a lot of information and we need to take that forward, carry the lessons we learned here into South Africa.”
New Zealand also will take some confidence into their impending three-Test series against Australia, though their meet an Aussie side in exceptional form after their 2-0 series win over Pakistan on Monday.
The New Zealanders have no warm-up games before their first Test against Australia, a day-night match at Perth Stadium, starting Dec 12 and have to overcome the fact that none of the current 15-strong squad has played a Test in Perth, Melbourne or Sydney.
NEW ZEALAND (1st Innings) 375 (T.W.M. Latham 105, D.J. Mitchell 73, B.J. Watling 55, L.R.P.L. Taylor 53; S.C.J. Broad 4-73, C.R. Woakes 3-83).
ENGLAND (1st Innings) 476 (J.E. Root 226, R.J. Burns 101, O.J. Pope 75; N. Wagner 5-124).
NEW ZEALAND (2nd Innings, overnight 96-2):
T.W.M. Latham c Root b Woakes 18
J.A. Raval lbw b Curran 0
K.S. Williamson not out 104
L.R.P.L. Taylor not out 105
EXTRAS (B-2, LB-3, W-3, NB-1, PR-5) 14
TOTAL (for two wkts, 75 overs) 241
FALL OF WKTS: 1-2, 2-28.
BOWLING: Broad 9-0-28-0; Curran 16-2-56-1 (2w); Archer 12-1-27-0; Woakes 11-4-12-1; Stokes 14-1-58-0 (1nb, 1w); Denly 9-1-27-0; Root 4-1-23-0.
RESULT: Match drawn; New Zealand win two-match series 1-0.
UMPIRES: H.D.P.K. Dharmasena (Sri Lanka) and P. Wilson (Australia).
TV UMPIRE: B.N.J. Oxenford (Australia).
MATCH REFEREE: J. Srinath (India).
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Joe Root.
MAN-OF-THE-SERIES: Neil Wagner.
FIRST TEST: Mount Maunganui, New Zealand won by an innings and 65 runs.
Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2019