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England scenting whitewash at Headingley

Graeme Swann followed up skipper Alastair Cook’s fine 130 to leave England on course for a 2-0 Investec Test series whitewash against New Zealand.

Cook, who resumed on 88, wasted little time in moving to a 25th Test century this morning, his innings combining with Jonathan Trott’s 76 to help the hosts declare on 287 for five.

The Black Caps’ hopes of chasing 468 were immediately undermined as England claimed three early wickets, although Ross Taylor then responded with a superb half-century.

Yet his 79-run alliance with Dean Brownlie was brought to an end by the impressive Steven Finn, a wicket that allowed Swann to retake control.

The off-spinner, having earlier dismissed Kane Williamson and Hamish Rutherford, had Martin Guptill caught at slip before bowling Taylor for 70.

Bad light stopped play soon after, leaving New Zealand – on 158 for six – hoping the weather in Leeds tomorrow is worse than anticipated.

All eyes were on Cook, his country’s most prolific centurion, this morning given he was just 12 runs shy of another three-figure score.

Those in attendance were not to be disappointed as England’s skipper continued to play with great freedom.

His innings was typically assured, though notable for drives and clips rather than the expected cuts and pulls.

Such an effort is hardly surprising, for Cook has long since moved on from being the quintessential English opener who camps on the back foot.

Indeed, it was fitting that his hundred was brought up in the manner many of his other runs came, via a glorious front-foot cover-drive off Tim Southee.

The Black Caps have enjoyed success bowling full at Cook in recent months, but will have surely learned lessons about his adaptability today ahead of the three-match NatWest Series.

He was eventually caught off a leading edge attempting to hit Williamson over the top, after which Trott continued his fluent knock.

The number three, having resumed unbeaten on 11 from 69 balls, showed positive intent from the off this morning, following up a single with a late-cut four off the second ball he faced.

Trott was inventive, reverse-sweeping spin confidently and adopting a calculated approach against seam that ensured ones and twos were interspersed with boundaries. 

But he was to fall victim of a break in play, edging an attempted drive off Neil Wagner behind immediately after lunch.

Ian Bell had departed just before the interval, skying an attempted slog-sweep off Williamson to be caught at midwicket.

With England deciding further runs were necessary, there was still time for Yorkshire fans to see cameos from two of their own.

Joe Root played the most outrageous shot of the game, a reverse-swept four off paceman Wagner, in his 26 before driving the same bowler to cover. Jonny Bairstow delivered some lusty blows, the highlight being a straight six off Guptill, en route to 26 not out.

Stuart Broad immediately hurt New Zealand’s chase, catching Peter Fulton’s glove with a delivery that reared up from a length; Bell did the rest at gully.

New Zealand’s confidence was then further dented as Swann, enjoying considerable turn out of the rough, trapped Williamson – whose subsequent review would prove unsuccessful – lbw.

Rutherford had looked impressive amid those wickets, mixing the odd piece off good fortune with some crunching off-side strokes.

However, he never seemed fully comfortable against Swann and popped up a bat-pad catch to short-leg on 42.

New Zealand needed a hero, and Taylor – supported by the gritty Brownlie – stepped up to the plate.

While his partner opted a dead-bat approach, the eye-catching batsman drove confidently out of the rough against Swann and, unlike the first innings, found a sustainable method against the fiery Finn - albeit one that meant taking a couple of blows.

The same could not be said for Brownlie as he gloved a sharp bouncer to Bell at gully when taking evasive action.

Guptill hardly looked like providing Taylor with similar assistance, edging one that did not turn from Swann to first slip.

England’s tweaker was not done there, finally ousting Taylor, who – driving through the off side as he had with such success – was bowled.

Swann finished with figures of 4-61 and will no doubt be confident of completing the job on a day when showers are expected intermittently.

Evening Session

Here are the highlights of the evening session at Headingley.

New Zealand 2nd Innings

6:36pm - STUMPS! New Zealand 158/6; McCullum 0, Southee 4 - And that's that. Bad light brings proceedings to an end immediately after Tim Southee crunches Swann down the ground for four.

6:26pm - WICKET! Taylor b Swann 70; New Zealand 154/6 - The shot Taylor has played so well proves his undoing; the batsman yorks himself driving out of the rough and is bowled by the outstanding Swann.

6:15pm - WICKET! Guptill c Trott b Swann 3; New Zealand 153/5 - Consider him at boiling point. It's the one that goes on with the arm that does for Guptill, who edges to Jonathan Trott at first slip.

6:06pm - Swann has a new batsman in his sights, Martin Guptill, and is warming to the task. Here are the afternoon highlights.

5:48pm - WICKET! Brownlie c Bell b Finn 25; New Zealand 144/4 - What a snorter! It was beginning to feel like England needed a moment of magic and Finn, who's been very impressive, delivers it. A bouncer nips back at Dean Brownlie, who - trying to take evasive action - gloves the ball into the air, Ian Bell claiming the catch at gully.

5:42pm - REVIEW! - It seemed to have worked a treat for a brief moment! England appeal loudly for a caught-behind off Taylor and umpire Steve Davis raises the finger. The batsman immediately sends it upstairs and is reprieved with bat hitting pad rather than ball, much to the dismay of the hosts and, particularly, Swann.

5:37pm - Finn is in the midst of a good spell, but England continue to be thwarted. The drinks break will offer a good chance to regroup.

5:21pm - FIFTY! Taylor (78b 6x4 0x6) - This has been quite an innings from Taylor and New Zealand will pray it continues. The number four heralds the landmark by pushing into the off side and picking up two off Swann.

5:18pm - REVIEW! - Cook brings Steven Finn back into the attack and, almost immediately, the paceman raps Taylor on the pad. Umpire Marais Erasmus delivers a not-out verdict, which is upheld when England call for a review with the ball only just clipping leg stump.

5:05pm - With the umpires chatting regarding the light, Alastair Cook turns to Joe Root so we have off-spin from both ends.

4:49pm - There is just a hint of reverse-swing for Anderson, not that anything can knock Taylor out of his stride. He's on to 38 from just 50 deliveries and looking good, unlike the gloom-engulfed ground. 

4:32pm - Taylor is in counter-attack mode now, driving Swann out of the rough for four before cutting Anderson for another.

4:24pm - Graeme Swann gets proceedings back under way, with Ross Taylor picking up four with an edge through slip. James Anderson is on at the other end.

Afternoon Session

3:58pm - TEA! New Zealand 68/3; Taylor 9, Brownlie 3 - England's bowlers' tails are up, Finn almost taking Taylor's edge as Swann wheels away further. It's time for a little break.

3:50pm - WICKET! Rutherford c Root b Swann 42; New Zealand 65/3 - Swann continues to pose all sorts of problems and has Rutherford taken at short-leg as one that does not turn as much is inside-edged on to pad.

3:44pm - Ross Taylor shows signs of confidence by whipping Finn through wide mid-on for four, with Rutherford then hitting Swann in the same area. However, the latter almost depart two balls later attempting to repeat the trick as a leading edge only just clears mid-on.

3:35pm - These are tricky conditions to bat in at the moment, with Finn and Swann causing problems at each end.

3:22pm - WICKET! Williamson lbw Swann 3; New Zealand 40/2 - Graeme Swann is into the attack and, immediately gaining assistance, gets a wicket in his second over when trapping Williamson in front. The batsman unsuccessfully reviews and has to go. At the other end, Rutherford is into his stride having upper-cut and straight driven boundaries off Broad and Steven Finn respectively.

3:02pm - More good stuff from Broad, who rears another one up - this time crunching Kane Williamson on the glove. England continue to probe.

2:47pm - WICKET! Fulton c Bell b Broad 5; New Zealand 21/1 - Two-metre Peter goes to one that, ironically, gets big on him. Broad finds extra bounce from a length, the ball takes the shoulder of the bat and Ian Bell claims a simple catch at gully.

2:36pm - The Black Caps endure their first scare as Hamish Rutherford bottom-edges Broad just short of wicketkeeper Matt Prior in between a drive and back-foot punch for four. Peter Fulton then finds his first boundary with a trademark whip to leg. Here are the morning-session highlights.

2:25pm - There's a little movement in evidence for James Anderson and Stuart Broad in the early stages of New Zealand's chase.

England 2nd Innings

2:04pm - England declare on 287/5; New Zealand need 468 to win - Bairstow, who finishes on 26 not out, hammers Guptill down the ground for six and adds fours over cover and straight. England then opt to end their innings, leaving New Zealand needing 468.

1:57pm - WICKET! Root c Guptill b Wagner 28; England 268/5 - Disappointent for the Yorkshire fans in attendance as Root drives Neil Wagner straight to cover. In comes Matt Prior.

1:55pm - Joe Root gets stuck into Martin Guptill's waist-high full-toss, yet his and Jonny Bairstow's efforts to up the ante otherwise prove unsuccessful as the Black Caps look sharp in the field.

1:40pm - WICKET! Trott c McCullum b Wagner 76; England 249/4 - England have decided to bat on, yet there will be no century for Jonathan Trott. He edges the second ball after lunch, off Neil Wagner, behind and Brendon McCullum takes a fine diving catch.

Morning Session

1:01pm - LUNCH! England 249/3; Trott 76, Root 20 - England end the session on a high as Joe Root late-cuts fours off Martin Guptill and Wagner before brilliantly reverse-sweeping the latter for another. Trott finds his eighth boundary with the same shot, albeit in a more conventional manner as it came off a spinner, and the hosts reach the interval with a lead of 429. Will they bat on further?

12:37pm - WICKET! Bell c Guptill b Williamson 6; England 214/3 - A selfless, but brief innings from Ian Bell. He reverse-laps Williamson effortlessly for four to get off the mark, but skies an attempted slog-sweep and sees Martin Guptill claim a catch - albeit one he almost drops - at midwicket.

12:17pm - FIFTY! Trott (126b 6x4 0x6) - Cook picks up where he left off immediately after the quick break, driving another boundary through - yes, you guessed it - cover. Trott then sweeps a Williamson full-toss for one to reach his half-century.12:26pm - WICKET! Cook c Southee b Williamson 130; England 206/2 - The Black Caps finally get their first breakthrough of the morning as Tim Southee takes a simple catch from a Cook leading edge after the skipper tries to hit over mid-on.

12:02pm - DROPPED CHANCE! - That was the first opportunity of the morning for New Zealand. Trott reverse-sweeps Williamson out of the rough and gloves it, yet Ross Taylor can only parry the ball to the boundary from first slip. Anyway, it's time for a drink.

11:52am - This is impressive from England, who are going at just shy of five an over this morning; Trott adds a further delicate boundary and Cook likewise after a powerful straight drive to the fence.

11:39pm - Cracking stuff from Trott, who has looked glorious so far this morning. After late-cutting Doug Bracewell through third man, the number three whips a Kane Williamson full-toss for another four.

11:28am - CENTURY! Cook (152b 15x4 0x6) - There was no other way he was going to bring it up. Cook's cover-driving in this innings has been sensational and he moves to Test hundred number 25 with another glorious one.

11:24am - Lovely stroke from Cook, who drives confidently down the ground for his first boundary of the morning. However, he's nearly run out soon after having called Trott through for a quick single.

11:09am - Jonathan Trott is immediately looking more positive than yesterday evening, guiding his first ball for one before driving four through backward point later in Neil Wagner's over. In between those shots, Cook hit a single to deep cover to bring up his 10,000th international run.

11:05am - Tim Southee sends down the first over, a maiden to Alastair Cook, and we are under way on day four.

Pre-Play News

10:55am - We're just five minutes away from the action. It should be a fun morning, with England surely set to put their foot on the accelerator given tomorrow's weather forecast is extremely poor.

10:41am - Immediate attention will be on Alastair Cook today as he resumes 12 runs short of a 25th Test century. Jonathan Trott is alongside the skipper on 11.

10:30am - Hello and welcome to our live text commentary of day four between England and New Zealand. The hosts are in a dominant position on 116 for one in the second Investec Test - a lead of 296.

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