HEADINGLEY — New Zealand again found Graeme Swann a difficult conundrum as the off-spinner bowled England towards another convincing victory in the second and final test on Monday.
Swann confirmed he was back to his best after elbow surgery by adding four wickets to his quartet from the first innings and left the tourists hoping for forecast rain to arrive and save them on the final day yesterday.
Set an improbable 468 to win at Headingley, New Zealand limped to 158 for six at the close with Ross Taylor’s determined 70 glueing together another fragile innings.
Taylor and Dean Brownlie (25) had shared a fourth-wicket stand of 79 to hold up England who are certain to seal series triumph after their first-Test victory at Lord’s.
Taylor survived two reviewed appeals, but became Swann’s fourth victim when he was beaten for flight, misjudged a drive and was bowled.
“He’s a world class bowler and had a bit of assistance with the footmarks . . . kept asking questions the whole innings,” Taylor said of Swann’s bowling.
“I felt comfortable against him and I’m obviously disappointed to get out two overs before the close. I just went out there to play straight and with some instinct.”
Acknowledging England had “thoroughly dominated the game”, Taylor joked New Zealand needed the return of the downpours to save them.
“England are in the box seat and we need a little bit of help. We’ll have to wait and see when we pull back the curtains in the morning . . . something similar to the first day would be handy (when there was no play due to rain).”
Dismissed for 174 in their first innings, hot on the heels of their capitulation at Lord’s when they were skittled for 68, New Zealand again looked ill at ease at the crease.