Cricket - Rain halts England's pursuit of victory in Wellington

Day four, second Test at Basin Reserve, Wellington – England 465 all out (Compton 100, Trott 121, Prior 82, Pietersen 73 / Martin 4-130) against New Zealand 254 all out (McCullum 69, Watling 60 / Broad 6-51) and 162-2 following on (Fulton 45, Williamson 55 not out)

Cricket - Captain Cook experiences relief and disappointment in NZ

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England captain Alastair Cook leads off his players in Wellington (AFP)

England were left frustrated after persistent rain all but eliminated their chances of forcing a result in the second Test with just one New Zealand wicket taken on day four in Wellington.

Following on 211 behind, the hosts battled doggedly to limit Alastair Cook’s tourists to just the wicket of Peter Fulton for 45 as Kane Williamson and former skipper Ross Taylor put on an unbeaten 81-run partnership for the third wicket.

England's bowlers were already bemoaning their luck during a patience-testing day before rain intervened repeatedly, eventually ending the day’s play with the scoreboard showing 162 for two and the hosts still 49 runs behind.

Play had belatedly resumed for a revised evening session after a seemingly interminable delay before further rain again halted proceedings and, with the remnants of Cyclone Sandra set to take out much of the remainder of the match, the series now appears likely to remain level heading into the third Test in Auckland.

Just 29 overs were completed before rain initially forced the players off early in the afternoon, pouring almost unabated with just six more possible as England’s advantage was effectively rendered inconsequential after Cook’s side had established a 211-run first-innings lead and reduced the hosts to 77 for one overnight.

England’s sole reward for their morning efforts was the wicket of Fulton, who had used up 114 balls and was just five short his second half-century of the series when he succumbed to Anderson in the fourth over of the day.

The paceman, who had to settle for just two wickets in the first innings as Stuart Broad starred with six for 51, located the opening batsman's outside edge superbly with Cook taking a smart catch at slip.

But Taylor and Williamson were largely untroubled as they negotiated a subdued period of play in which the best chance of a wicket came as Monty Panesar found the edge of the former's bat, only to see the ball drop agonisingly short of slip.

It was another largely fruitless stint from the slow left-arm spinner, who is continuing in the absence of the injured Graeme Swann, with figures in the match so far of one for 87 after opposite number Bruce Martin took four for 130 in England's first innings.

Andy Flower's men remain in the ascendancy with New Zealand still 49 runs shy of the tourists' first innings 465 but, with a storm-blighted forecast set for the final day, the series appears ready to be settled in Auckland from next Friday.

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