New Zealand will have to wait to bring up their 100th test victory – but it looks like they've have done enough to seal a draw, and with it, another series win.

Joe Root ensured the former, while Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor have put the Black Caps in a strong position to secure the latter, on a fourth day of the second test that started slowly but burst into life late in the piece.

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Root led the way with a classy 226 – the highest test score at Seddon Park - as England racked up 476, making the Black Caps bowlers toil on a lifeless wicket. That gave them a 101-run first-innings lead, and put them in a position where they had four sessions to try and manufacture a result – an outcome that looked plausible when they claimed the early scalps of openers Jeet Raval and Tom Latham.

England's Joe Root reached his second-highest test score. Photo / Photosport
England's Joe Root reached his second-highest test score. Photo / Photosport

However, by stumps, Williamson and Taylor had seen off the early scare, guiding the hosts to 96-2, trailing by only five runs. Add in a weather forecast which suggests heavy rain on the way for Hamilton in the early afternoon tomorrow, and it would require a remarkable rash of wickets in the first session for England to have any hope of a miraculous victory.

So, a draw it is then, and questions will be asked about whether the Seddon Park wicket offered enough for a result to be found, even given the weather interruptions.

For the second straight day, the first session went by without a wicket falling, as Root and Ollie Pope (75) added 193 for the sixth wicket, holding firm for 375 balls.

They had a bit of luck – plenty of inside edges went flying past the stumps, but there was also a lack of real spark from the Black Caps bowlers. Neil Wagner was lively as usual, while Tim Southee provided a stern line and length without reward. However, Matt Henry failed to take a rare test opportunity, Mitchell Santner found little purchase, and Daryl Mitchell's bowling isn't up to the standard of a first-change test bowler.

Compared to Trent Boult and Colin de Grandhomme, Henry and Mitchell are inferior wicket-taking threats, which – along with the pedestrian pitch and the Kookaburra ball – left Wagner and Southee as the only bowlers who looked particularly likely.

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Wagner was the man to finally end Root and Pope's long partnership, but only after England had taken a first-innings lead and were looking to up the ante. Pope holed out to the square leg boundary trying to hook Wagner, while Chris Woakes lasted three balls before feathering the same bowler through to BJ Watling.

In between, Root – who had nearly run out Pope with a quick single to bring up his second test double century – departed after 441 balls, his longest test innings, picking out the man on the cover boundary when trying to attack Santner.

When Wagner cleaned up Jofra Archer and Stuart Broad to end with five wickets, suddenly, after no wickets for 375 balls, five had fallen in 36, and England's innings was complete at 476.

New Zealand bowler Neil Wagner celebrates his five wickets. Photo / Photosport
New Zealand bowler Neil Wagner celebrates his five wickets. Photo / Photosport

It gave them a handy 101-run lead though, and they had serious hope of a stunning victory after removing Raval and Latham.

Raval's horror run continued when trapped lbw for a second ball duck by Sam Curran. Replays showed a significant inside edge, but he bizarrely didn't review it, and on recent form, looks a walking wicket if opening the batting in Australia.

When Latham departed, caught at slip off Woakes, the Black Caps were 28-2, but Williamson and Taylor batted unbroken for 25 overs to ensure a calm ending to the day. A draw, and series victory, will surely follow.