Williamson, Taylor eye tons as New Zealand fight to save Test

Hamilton (New Zealand) (AFP) –


Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor were closing in on centuries as they guided New Zealand to a position of safety buoyed by dropped catches on the final day of the second Test against England on Tuesday.

As rain clouds gathered on the Hamilton horizon, threatening to bring an early end to the day, the veteran pair batted through the morning session to have New Zealand 211 for two at lunch, a lead of 110.

Williamson, who had been gifted two lives, was on 96 and Taylor 84 with both having posted their 32nd Test half-centuries in an unbroken 183-run partnership.

Just before the interval Taylor became only the second New Zealander to pass 7,000 career Test runs behind Stephen Fleming's 7,172.

England's hunt for quick wickets in an attempt to force a result went unrewarded with Ollie Pope and Joe Denly the guilty parties in the catching department.

When Williamson was on 39, wicketkeeper Pope put down a regulation offering off the gloves of the New Zealand skipper from the bowling of Ben Stokes, and on 62 Denly inexplicably dropped an even easier chance.

Williamson gently chipped a slower delivery from Jofra Archer straight to Denly at short midwicket and as the bowler leapt in celebration and Williamson made an apologetic gesture to Taylor, the ball popped out of Denly's hands.

It drew instant comparisons on social media to the widely regarded worst dropped catch in Test history when England's Mike Gatting put down a sitter off the gloves of India batsman Kiran More in 1993.

England also appealed to have Williamson caught just before lunch but video replays showed the ball missed the bat and was deflected off the helmet.

Although England were unable to take a wicket in the session, Chris Woakes played his part to limit the scoring, conceding just 12 runs off 11 overs.