WELLINGTON (AFP): James Anderson validated his elevation to top spot in the world Test bowling rankings with a lethal opening spell as England took full control of the second Test against New Zealand on Saturday.
Veteran seamer Anderson snared 3-37, sending the Black Caps crashing to 138-7 when rain forced an early end to day two in Wellington, after England declared their first innings at 435-8.
Spinner Jack Leach also took three scalps, leaving New Zealand staring at a 297-run deficit with three days remaining.
Red-hot England are on course for a sweep of the two-match series, having won the first Test by 267 runs at Mount Maunganui with the same mix of aggressive batting and potent new-ball bowling.
Joe Root was unbeaten on 153 when captain Ben Stokes made his assertive declaration, leaving the tourists half an hour to attack the Black Caps top order before lunch.
Anderson answered the call, removing Devon Conway (0) and Kane Williamson (4) to have the hosts languishing at 12-2.
The exacting paceman removed Will Young (2) after the break to underscore why he’d been reinstated to No 1 in the ICC player rankings released this week – the oldest player to hold the perch, at 40.
All three batsmen feathered edges to gloveman Ben Foakes, extending the number of Test victims caught by a wicketkeeper off Anderson to 188 – 36 more than any other bowler.
Left-handers Tom Latham (35) and Henry Nicholls (30) launched a rearguard but both fell when attempting to reverse-sweep Leach (3-45), offering catches to fielders around the bat.
First-Test centurion Tom Blundell head reached 25 not out before play was called off at 5.45 pm (0445 GMT), and his free-wheeling captain Tim Southee was unbeaten on 23 — in an innings featuring two sixes.
About 25 overs were lost to the late rain, mirroring the premature finish to day one when the clouds opened.
However, England still have ample time to push for a seventh straight Test win and consign New Zealand to an eighth successive winless Test.
Earlier, England lost five wickets and racked up a further 120 runs in an entertaining opening session after resuming at 315-3.
Harry Brook fell in the third over for 186, having added just two to his overnight score.
His blazing knock formed part of a 302-run stand with Root – the second-highest in England’s Test history against New Zealand – having rescued the tourists from 21-3 early on day one.
Root effortlessly advanced from his overnight 101 to surpass 150 for the 14th time in his career.
The 32-year-old received lively support from Stokes — who blasted 27 off 28 balls — Stuart Broad (14) and Ollie Robinson (18).
Root struck 10 fours and three sixes, including a reverse ramp shot that cleared the boundary rope off the fourth ball he faced on Saturday, from Southee.
Seamer Matt Henry took the key wicket of Brook, holding onto a sharp caught-and-bowled chance, to return 4-100.
Scoreboard after day two of the second Test between New Zealand and England in Wellington on Saturday:
England 1st innings (overnight 315-3)
Z. Crawley c Blundell b Henry 2
B. Duckett c Bracewell b Southee 9
O. Pope c Bracewell b Henry 10
J. Root not out 153
H. Brook c and b Henry 186
B. Stokes c sub (Kuggeleijn) b Wagner 27
B Foakes st Blundell b Bracewell 0
S Broad lbw b Bracewell 14
O Robinson c Southee b Henry 18
J. Leach not out 6
Extras (lb8, w2) 10
Total (8 wkts, 87.1 overs) 435/d
Fall of wickets: 1-5 (Crawley), 2-21 (Pope), 3-21 (Duckett), 4-323 (Brook), 5-362 (Stokes), 6-363 (Foakes), 7-389 (Broad), 8-424 (Robinson)
Did not bat: James Anderson
Bowling: Southee 24-5-93-1, Henry 22.1-3-100-4 (1w), Mitchell 9-1-61-0, Wagner 21-1-119-1 (1w), Bracewell 11-0-54-2
New Zealand 1st innings
T. Latham c Root b Leach 35
D. Conway c Foakes b Anderson 0
K. Williamson c Foakes b Anderson 4
W. Young c Foakes b Anderson 2
H. Nicholls c Pope b Leach 30
D. Mithell c Pope b Leach 13
T. Blundell not out 25
M. Bracewell c and b Broad 6
T. Southee not out 23
Total (7 wkts, 42 overs) 138
Fall of wickets: 1-1 (Conway), 2-7 (Williamson), 3-21 (Young), 4-60 (Latham), 5-77 (Nicholls), 6-96 (Mitchell), 7-103 (Bracewell)
Still to bat: M. Henry, N. Wagner
Bowling: Anderson 10-1-37-3, Broad 12-2-50-1, Robinson 8-4-6-0, Leach 12-1-45-3
Rain ended play at 16:45 (local)
Toss: New Zealand
Umpires: Chris Gaffaney (NZL), Rod Tucker (AUS)
TV umpire: Aleem Dar (PAK)
Match referee: David Boon (AUS)