Leeds: Graeme Swann bowled England to the brink of victory against New Zealand in the second and final Test at Headingley. The off-spinner took four for 61 in 21.4 unchanged overs, extending his match haul to eight wickets, before bad light ended the fourth day with New Zealand 6 for 154.
That left the Black Caps still needing a further 310 runs to reach their victory target of 468. The most any side has ever made in the fourth innings to win a Test is West Indies' 7 for 418 against Australia in Antigua in 2002/03. And the corresponding record for New Zealand is the 4 for 325 they posted against Pakistan in Christchurch in 1993/94.
It seemed only the rain on Tuesday's final day could now deny England victory and a 2-0 series win. In that case they might rue both captain Alastair Cook's decision not to enforce the follow-on on Sunday and indeed bat on after lunch on Monday in a match where the whole of Friday's first day was washed out without a ball bowled.
For New Zealand, only former captain Ross Taylor, with a stylish 70, offered much in the way of significant resistance Monday before he was yorked by Swann to leave New Zealand 6 for 154.
In their first innings, New Zealand collapsed to 174 all out - although this was an improvement on the 68 they managed in the second innings of their 170-run first Test defeat at Lord's. Stuart Broad, who took a Test-best 7 for 44 at Lord's, removed Peter Fulton for five on Monday after he fended a rising delivery to Ian Bell in the gully.
Swann, who'd taken four wickets in New Zealand's first innings, needed just nine balls to strike again Monday when Kane Williamson was lbw on review. Swann then grabbed his second wicket in three overs when left-handed opener Hamish Rutherford was caught off bat and pad by Joe Root at short leg for 42.
That left New Zealand 3 for 65 and in danger of suffering yet another top-order slump. Taylor, however, counter-attacked by cover-driving Swann for four. He came through reviews on 47 and 60, receiving solid support from Dean Brownlie in a fourth wicket stand of 79.
But Brownlie was eventually dismissed for 25 when, swaying away from a Steven Finn bouncer, he gloved to Bell before Martin Guptill (three) edged Swann to Jonathan Trott at slip. Then 5 for 153 became 6 for 154 when Taylor, who batted for more than two-and-a-half hours, fell to Swann. The skies above Headingley - which does not have floodlights - were increasingly gloomy and the umpires eventually took the players off with 6.2 overs left in the day's play.
Earlier, Cook scored 130, further extending his England record for Test centuries to 25, before declaring the hosts' second innings on 5 for 287 shortly after lunch. Left-handed opener Cook, 88 not out overnight, eventually got a leading edge to mid-off against part-time spinner Williamson after sharing a second-wicket stand of 134 with Trott, who made 76.