New Zealand was 162-2 in its second innings, trailing England by 49 runs after following on, when heavy rain on Sunday curtailed the fourth day of the second cricket test.
Only 22 minutes of play were possible between lunch and stumps as long-delayed showers, breaking one of the worst droughts in New Zealand's recent history, washed over the Basin Reserve and severely disrupted the last two sessions.
Kane Williamson reached a stubborn half century during the first session Sunday and formed partnerships of 56 for the second wicket with Peter Fulton and 81, unbroken, for the third wicket with Ross Taylor. Williamson was 55 not out and Taylor unbeaten on 41 at stumps.
The fourth day — full of promise at its outset — became a long and frustrating battle against rain, which first began to fall during the lunch interval when New Zealand was 153-2 and still 58 runs from making England bat again.
No play was possible in the second session because of showers which severely dampened the outfield at the Basin Reserve. Those showers periodically would abate, raising hopes of a resumption in play, then return just as the ground was in its last stages of being prepared.
Play finally began again at 5.10pm but only 22 minutes were possible, six overs were bowled and New Zealand added nine runs to its total before light rain again chased players from the field.
An effort was made to restart play 40 minutes later — players were grouped on the boundary ready to return — but rain intervened and umpires Rod Tucker of Australia and Asad Rauf of Australia finally called stumps at 5:55.
New Zealand had resumed its second innings Sunday at 77-1, still trailing England by 134 runs. Opener Hamish Rutherford was out for 15 before stumps Saturday but Williamson and Fulton carried New Zealand to the close of play in relative comfort.
The home team might still have joined New Zealand farmers in praying for rain with so much of the match remaining and England so firmly in control. New Zealand's North Island has been in the grip of its longest dry spell since 1947, and the showers that fell Sunday, and are expected again Monday, are not thought to be drought-breaking.
New Zealand will need more of the stoic batting it has showed in the first session of the fourth day to save the match and prevent England taking a 1-0 lead into the last match of the three-test series in Auckland.
Fulton batted with notable patience and care to reach 45, sticking at the crease for two and a half hours before he fell to the first rash shot of his innings. He flashed at a short delivery from James Anderson, well wide of off-stump and edged a simple catch to Alastair Cook at second slip.
Fulton and Williamson had added 56 in just under two hours for the second wicket, providing an example of the sort of fighting stand New Zealand will need to keep the match and series alive.
Williamson and Taylor continued the battle, reaching their 50-run partnership from 117 balls. The key battle of the morning was between the New Zealand batsmen and England spinner Monty Panesar, who began to find turn from scuffing and footmarks left in the first three days.
Panesar was thought likely to be a major player in the match after New Zealand left-arm spinner Bruce Martin found turn and took four wickets during England's first innings. But the Englishman struggled to settle into a productive line and length.
He chose to bowl over the wicket to the right-handers, pitching outside leg stump and removing the possibility of an lbw.
Panesar had 1-44 at stumps, while Anderson, who claimed the only wicket of the day, had 1-27.