England on Monday sensed a chance to end their woeful winless run in overseas Tests even though New Zealand will start the final day of the second Test with all 10 wickets still intact.
When bad light ended play 24 overs early in Christchurch, New Zealand were 42 without loss but still 340 runs short of their formidable 382-run target.
Tom Latham was not out 25 and Jeet Raval unbeaten on 17 after surviving a testing 23 overs before play ended more than an hour early.
England batsman-wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow said there were enough signs to believe the tourists’ run of 12 away matches without a victory could be about to end.
But New Zealand were hopeful of a rare series victory against England if they can at least hang on for a draw after winning the first match in the two-Test series.
“There’s definitely enough in the pitch for us to take the wickets,” Bairstow said.
“We’ve beaten the bat consistently. Leachy (spinner Jack Leach) bowled three overs this evening and there were some chances created there.”
England’s new-ball pair James Anderson and Stuart Broad repeatedly pressured Latham and Raval, with one tough chance off Latham dropped by James Vince at third slip. Bairstow believed that “without a shadow of a doubt” his team were in charge.
But with 10 wickets in hand, New Zealand batting coach Craig McMillan was eyeing what would be only the fourth series win over England in 36 series — and the first since 1999.
“It would be huge. We love playing England. Series wins have been few and far between for New Zealand Test sides and in terms of history it will be very special,” he said praising Latham and Raval for their stubborn start to the innings.
“It was really impressive. It was obviously a tough period against two world-class new ball bowlers.
“They got examined and tested in different areas but they did a great job to get through.”
After England declared on 352 for nine, Latham and Raval had some difficult moments in a hostile first-up spell from Anderson and Broad.
Anderson did everything but claim Latham’s wicket as the New Zealand opener flirted outside off stump while Broad struck Raval a painful blow in the ribs.
When the New Zealand innings began with a minimum of 137 overs to reach the target, the required run rate was 2.78 per over. When the light ended play early, costing 16 available overs, the run rate was 3.46.
England flourished at the start of the day when they resumed on 202 for three, with Joe Root and Dawid Malan moving the score to 262 before Colin de Grandhomme rallied New Zealand.
He had Malan caught at mid-wicket by Henry Nicholls for 53 to start a tumble that saw six wickets fall for 90 runs before England declared.
Root, having shared in a 97-run stand with Malan, was out three balls later for 54 with an edge to wicketkeeper BJ Watling off Neil Wagner.
De Grandhomme produced his second-best Test figures of four for 94 as he followed up with the wickets of Ben Stokes (12), Broad (12) and Wood (nine).
Bairstow, who was given not out on two when he feathered a ball to the wicketkeeper and New Zealand had no reviews left, was eventually out for 36 — leaving Leach not out 14 when the declaration came.