A draw seems the most likely conclusion to the opening cricket test between New Zealand and England due to the abandoned third day, but all is not lost for the tourists.
The odds are long at contesting for a second Lord's win from 18 attempts, but advantages remain if the match is viewed through the lens of world championship final preparation.
The bowlers earned an unintentional rest and avoided an overbearing workload across 101.2 overs to dismiss the hosts. Similarly, with a first innings lead of 103 extending to 165 by stumps, the batsmen have the opportunity to further adapt to English conditions on the final day. Depending on their acceleration before lunch, New Zealand's ambitions might extend to pressing for a victorious chapter to complement the halcyon days of 1999.
The Black Caps applied immediate pressure to England after relinquishing their grip before the rain. Rory Burns and Joe Root eked out 93 for the third wicket but Kyle Jamieson found the edge of Root's bat to first slip from the first ball of the fourth day. Jamieson finished with figures of three for 85 from 26 overs and, having also secured the wicket of opener Dom Sibley for a duck, suggested he was new-ball capable.
That narrative played out as Trent Boult joined the team after his self-imposed delay so he could spend time with his family after the Indian Premier League quarantine. He trained at the adjacent Nursery ground which, presuming there are no pre-conceived plans, could place him in contention for an Edgbaston start. Such a move would ensure he enters the Southampton showpiece against India buoyed by test match intensity.
Tim Southee provided searing evidence of a player poised to peak at that pinnacle event. He showed the experience of four tests at Lord's with a return of six for 43 from 25.1 overs – his second appearance on the visitors' honours board in that capacity. He offered a clinic in using the slope, angling up towards gully as he bowled from the Pavilion End.
The 32-year-old right-armer produced a triptych of wickets in nine balls - across three consecutive overs - to shatter the England middle order after removing Zak Crawley on the second day. First, he angled down the hill to capture the right-handed Ollie Pope lbw via review. Second, he steered the ball away enough to coax right-handed Dan Lawrence into wafting outside off stump. Third, left-handed debutant James Bracey had his off stump surgically removed with in-swing from around the wicket. Southee's variety and ability to instantly adapt his tactics bodes well this month.
New Zealand could take further assurance from another solid opening stand. Tom Latham and Devon Conway put on 39 in 18.2 overs, compared to 58 from 16 overs in the first innings. The most important element was how they blunted the ball.
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Conway was dismissed for 23, inside edging an Ollie Robinson delivery onto the stumps from a ball he judged as angling away. He and Latham had already survived rigorous testing from James Anderson over the wicket, and Stuart Broad, particularly off a good length in the fourth stump corridor, from around the wicket. The New Zealand duo will be better for the scrutiny.
Elements of concern remain. B-J Watling missed stumping century-maker Rory Burns on 77 at 193 for six which would have offered spinner Mitchell Santner a fillip ahead of a fourth innings where his credentials will undergo a forensic examination. Second slip Southee also dropped Burns on 88 off Neil Wagner.
India would also be advised to watch how England liberally attacked Kane Williamson on a good length around off stump. He was dismissed for one via lbw review to Ollie Robinson after making 13 in the first innings. A coup for the hosts... and an element which could go some way to deciding the inaugural final.