Captain Joe Root made a double century on day four of the second Test but England’s hopes of winning the match and drawing the series with New Zealand may be hampered by the weather.
Root’s painstaking 226 from 441 balls and 75 from Ollie Pope helped England to 476 and a first-innings lead of 101.
The Black Caps fell to 28-2 but Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor guided them to 96-2, trailing by only five runs.
Heavy rain is forecast to fall in Hamilton for much of the final day.
And on a pitch that is still good for batting, New Zealand will be confident of seeing out what play is possible from 21:30 GMT on Monday.
- TMS podcast: Hamilton day four – Double Century Root
Root doubles up – again
This was the first time England – 269-5 overnight – have made 400 in the first innings since Alastair Cook’s double century against Australia in Melbourne two years ago.
Root led by example. While he was patient – he was in the middle for just over 10 hours – there was a busyness about his innings that had been missing on the third day.
He played well off his legs, used soft hands to dab the ball down to third man, took quick singles and, when England decided to push towards a declaration, he hit out, striking pace bowler Matt Henry back down the ground for six.
Root’s only real miss-step came when, on 199, he called Pope through for a quick single and his partner was almost run out at the non-striker’s end. Pope dived, however, and Root was able to celebrate his third Test double century.
He was well supported by Pope in a 193-run stand for the sixth wicket. Playing in his fourth Test and keeping wicket in Jos Buttler’s absence, Pope struggled at first to keep up with Root’s tempo.
While his drives often found the fielders, Pope ran well and found the backward point boundary more frequently as New Zealand’s bowlers tired.
The only disappointment for England will be the way their innings ended as the final five wickets fell for 21 runs.
It was just reward for Neil Wagner, though. After Pope and Root were caught in the deep, the indefatigable Wagner had Chris Woakes caught behind, outfoxed Jofra Archer with a slower ball and bowled Stuart Broad to secure his fourth five-wicket haul in his past four Tests.
The stats you need to know
- Root’s previous highest Test score away from home was 182 not out in the West Indies in 2015.
- He is now the 10th leading Test run-scorer for England.
- It is the fourth time an England captain has made a double century overseas, after Alastair Cook, Ted Dexter and Len Hutton.
- Only three Englishman have more Test double tons than Root: Wally Hammond (7), Cook (5) and Hutton (4).
- Root is the first visiting captain to make a double century in New Zealand.
- Root’s double century, off 412 balls, was the slowest for England since Dennis Amiss’ 432-ball effort against West Indies in 1974.
Williamson Taylor hold firm
England made early inroads with the ball, but Root admitted at the end of play that the tourists hoped the pitch would do “a little bit more” in the final session.
Jeet Raval, who has scored only 24 runs in the series, was lbw to Sam Curran for a two-ball duck, although replays suggested there was an inside edge.
When Tom Latham, who made a century in New Zealand’s first innings, edged Chris Woakes to Root at a wide first slip, New Zealand were struggling.
Williamson was ruffled by Jofra Archer, who bowled short and into his body, while Ben Stokes tried the same tactic with Taylor later in the evening.
But Williamson and Taylor are two of New Zealand’s most experienced players and they played carefully on a placid surface.
Williamson ducked and Taylor pulled in an unbroken 68-run partnership across 25 overs.
There were, however, encouraging signs for England. Stokes, who struggled to bowl on the opening day with a left knee problem, found some awkward bounce, while Woakes was economical after his past struggles overseas.
‘We can still win’ – what they said
England captain Joe Root on BBC Test Match Special: “I have been close for a long time in terms of a real big score. I have never felt like it has been far away.
“Once I got in I had the bit between my teeth and wanted to make a big one. We have got ourselves in a position where we can still win.”
New Zealand bowler Neil Wagner: “We had to graft really hard. I was lucky enough to get the rewards. I felt a bit sorry for the other guys because they bowled well without much luck. A big shout goes to the other bowlers.
“It will be tough. We don’t want to look too far ahead of ourselves. We want to get in a good position first and once you earn the right to strike that is when you can try to dictate terms.”
England Middlesex bowler Steven Finn: “Even from the beginning of Root’s innings, you could see he meant business.
“It will give him great satisfaction. It is one of the best feelings in cricket when you have worked so hard and come out of the other side of it.”
Ex-England batsman Mark Ramprakash: “England will come and give it everything tomorrow morning.
“Whether or not England get a result, with the process they have put in place, the captain will be delighted. It is the type of tough cricket they want to play.”