New Zealand made a solid start to a daunting run chase, reaching 42 without loss at stumps on the fourth day of the second Test against England after being set 382 to win. Tom Latham was 25 not out and Jeet Raval 17 when stumps were drawn more than an hour early Monday because of bad light, leaving New Zealand needing 340 to win on the last day.
The New Zealand openers saw off the immediate threat of the new ball and set a foundation for the series hosts to push for victory.
"We're in a position where all three results are still possible tomorrow, which is exciting," New Zealand batsman Henry Nicholls said. "The work that Tom and Jeet did tonight and the work the entire batting group has to do tomorrow will be a good challenge but one we're looking forward to."
A successful run chase would be unlikely but not impossible with 10 wickets in hand and 98 overs to be bowled on a relatively docile pitch.
England captain Joe Root declared at 352-9 midway through the second session Monday after England led by 29 on the first innings.
If New Zealand reaches its target it will be the fourth-highest successful run chase in Test history. The West Indies hold the record at 418 against Australia in 2003.
New Zealand's highest fourth-innings total of 451 was against England at Christchurch in 2002, but it still lost that match by 98 runs.
The timing of Root's declaration was influenced by a flurry of wickets on either side of lunch.
Root and Dawid Malan made half-centuries in the first session which consolidated England's grip on the match. But the pair was dismissed within two balls of each other late in the first session and England lost four more wickets early in the second session.
Root and Malan also batted without the urgency that might have been expected of a team which is 1-0 in the two-match series and which has won only one of its last 12 Tests.
Root called his batsmen in when Jonny Bairstow was out for 36 near the middle of the day, leaving Jack Leach not out on 14.
Malan and Root were both out to rash shots near the end of a dull first session. Root was caught by wicketkeeper B.J. Watling, slashing at a wide delivery from Neil Wagner, and Malan chipped a ball from Colin de Grandhomme off his pads to Henry Nicholls at mid-wicket.
De Grandhomme enjoyed the rare luxury of sharing the second new ball with Trent Boult in the absence of Tim Southee who received treatment for a slight side strain.
Reveling in a new role, the medium pacer claimed the wickets of Malan, Ben Stokes (12), Mark Wood (9) and Bairstow to finish with 4-94.
Root didn't think of sending out his last man, James Anderson, who would take the new ball after the declaration. He was able to leave his bowlers 4-1/2 sessions to bowl out New Zealand and tie the two-match series.
That would allow England to end on a high note a long and cheerless summer in the southern hemisphere in which it lost the Ashes to Australia.
New Zealand won the first Test at Auckland by an innings and 49 runs.
The pitch at Hagley Oval is still playing well. While the new ball swings, the pitch has barely worn over four days and provides little assistance to the bowlers when the ball is old.