Rain delays start of final day in second test, play unlikely

WELLINGTON Sun Mar 17, 2013 9:51pm GMT

1 of 3. A security guard stands in the rain next to the pitch during a rain delay on the final day of the second test between England and New Zealand at the Basin Reserve in Wellington March 18, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/David Gray

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WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Persistent rain overnight and drizzle on Monday delayed the start of play on the final day of the second test between New Zealand and England at the Basin Reserve.

New Zealand's MetService has forecast a southerly change with heavy rain later in the morning, which will all but end any slim chance of play.

New Zealand Cricket said a decision on whether the match would be abandoned would not be made until later in the day.

Much of Sunday's fourth day was also washed out as intermittent rain showers swept across the Wellington region resulting in a near farcical situation as the umpires cleared the ground for play three times, only for the rain to return and force further delays.

Coincidentally, New Zealand's government declared the entire North Island of the country a drought zone last week after a summer with unprecedented long dry spells. The Wellington region is under a ban on the use of water outdoors.

The hosts were 162 for two in their second innings when play was called off on Sunday, with Kane Williamson on 55 not out and Ross Taylor on 41, though they were still 49 runs from making England bat again.

The first test at University Oval in Dunedin also ended in a rain-effected draw, with the third and final match of the series at Auckland's Eden Park from March 22-26.

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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