Auckland, Mar 24 (AP) New Zealand batsman Henry Nicholls completed his sixth half century before rain stopped play today, the third day of the second cricket Test against England at Eden Park.

Only 17 balls were bowled before rain, which allowed only 23.1 overs on the second day, further impeded the match.

Nicholls resumed at 49 not out and went on to a patient half century which took three hours, 18 minutes and came from 143 balls with three fours. He was 52 not out when the rain began.

B.J. Watling was 18 not out, having added only one to his overnight score, and New Zealand were 233, having added four, when players left the field. Tea was taken at that score.

New Zealand are still in a commanding position in the match, leading England by 175 runs after bowling out the tourists for 58 in 20.4 overs on the first day.

But rain is expected to persist today and tomorrow, threatening New Zealand’s bid to take a 1-0 lead in the two-Test series.

After England’s dismissal for a record low score against New Zealand, the home team took a cautious approach led by captain Kane Williamson who posted his 18th test century — a New Zealand record — before being out for 102.

Williamson reached that total in five hours, 19 minutes, pacing himself and feeling safe in the knowledge the match was well advanced. But New Zealand has been criticised for not showing more urgency in the face of the threat of rain on the second and third days. (AP) AH

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.