TODAY |

Williamson, Taylor steady the ship, leave England needing fifth day heroics to win Test

Batting power pair Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor have New Zealand on track for a series-clinching draw with England with a day remaining in the second Test in Hamilton.

The cheap loss of both openers early in the hosts' second innings ignited the prospect of an England win after Joe Root gave them a sniff via a majestic double century.

However, the accomplished captain Williamson (37 not out) and Taylor (31 not out) saw off the last 26 overs of day four in a dour 68-run stand that looked set to force a stalemate at Seddon Park.

New Zealand are 2-96 and trailing by just five runs.

With rain forecast for much of Tuesday, the tourists might require a small miracle to square the two-Test series.

It wasn't looking so cosy when the Black Caps lost Jeet Raval and first-innings centurion Tom Latham inside the first eight overs.

Raval's two-ball duck was a particular concern ahead of the series in Australia. The out-of-form opener's lack of confidence was exemplified by his failure to review his lbw dismissal off Sam Curran, even though hot spot replays revealed a clear inside edge.

If England can't force victory, the Test will probably be remembered for Root's ground-record 226, a standout knock given his Ashes series struggles and a double failure when New Zealand dominated the first Test at Mount Maunganui.

It carried England from 5-269 overnight to 476 all out on the stroke of tea, giving them a 101-run lead.

It was the Yorkshireman's longest Test knock, beginning when his team were on the back foot late on day two. It was his second-highest score in 162 innings, bettered only by the 254 against Pakistan three years ago in Manchester.

It also surpassed Williamson's unbeaten 200 in February against Bangladesh as the highest score by anyone in 26 Tests at Seddon Park.

The 441-ball stay ended when Root tried to loft Mitchell Santner and was caught in the deep, sparking a flurry of late wickets.

Four balls earlier, Ollie Pope departed in similar fashion for a Test-best 75, caught in the deep off Neil Wagner trying to up the pace.

The 21-year-old played the support role in a 193-run stand for the sixth wicket.

All five England wickets fell in six overs and the chief beneficiary was Wagner, who finished with 5-124 to claim a ninth career five-wicket haul.

It was no surprise to see the left-armer mopping up the tail, bowling with typical fire while his teammates' enthusiasm waned in warm, muggy conditions.