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Kiwis on top as England struggle

Second Test, Old Trafford (day two, close)
England 152-4 v New Zealand 381

By Jamie Lillywhite

Michael Vaughan is out, lbw, to Daniel Vettori
England's batsmen again failed to cope with the many skills of Vettori

New Zealand took control of the second Test after reducing England to 152-4 late on day two at Old Trafford.

The Kiwis lost Jacob Oram and skipper Daniel Vettori in the space of three balls to bizarre run-outs, but Ross Taylor and Kyle Mills saw them to 381.

Taylor struck five sixes in a superb unbeaten 154 and Mills hit seven fours and a six in a maiden Test fifty.

Andrew Strauss reached fifty in reply but Vettori's spin troubled England and they finished the day 229 runs behind.

Although New Zealand bowled with impressive accuracy, England's safety-first approach seemed overly cautious and their run-rate of 2.57 was some way short of the tourists' 4.20.

The large crowd had some attritional cricket to endure, and England's plans to keep wickets intact were thrown into disarray when three went for 34 runs in the evening sunshine.

The first wicket fell in the ninth over when Alastair Cook was unfortunate to fall to a freakish delivery from Iain O'Brien that moved more than a foot, like a fast leg-break, and appeared to be missing leg-stump.

Having reached his 13th Test fifty, Strauss, dropped at slip by Taylor on 30, fell to a stunning one-handed catch low to his left from wicket-keeper Brendon McCullum.

Kevin Pietersen glanced his first ball for four and looked in more positive mood, but he was fortunate to survive on eight when Vettori appeared to have trapped him in front missing a sweep, only for umpire Darrell Hair to shake his head.

Ross Taylor
Taylor balanced his attacking shots superbly in his second Test century

Michael Vaughan can scarcely have played a more subdued innings, with only the occasional stylish stroke to savour.

He was constantly tested by Vettori and eventually had the distinction of being Hair's first lbw victim back at the helm.

The decision to send in Ryan Sidebottom with almost five overs to go backfired when the left-hander edged to gully to rather epitomise a disjointed batting display.

The bright and distinctly breezy conditions were reminiscent of New Zealand, and the tourists certainly felt at home for the majority of the day.

Taylor, in such stark contrast from his kamikaze innings at Lord's, was in complete control and his wide array of shots allowed him to keep the scoreboard ticking.

He dominated the partnership of 113 with Oram, who although not at his best coped easily with the predominantly short pitched stuff England's seamers tried at him.

Monty Panesar was introduced after seven overs, and after he was savagely swept for four by Taylor, he tried his luck from over the wicket.

He immediately found some sharp turn but failed to trouble the batsmen although he should have dismissed Oram when the big left-hander was deceived in the flight and mis-hit to deep mid-on, but Anderson misjudged.

It needed something out of the ordinary to break the shackles and England were gifted it when Oram ambled his way down in response to Taylor's call for a single and Cook's direct hit swooping round from backward point found him short of his ground.

If Oram was negligent then Vettori, the man England have found so difficult to dislodge, was guilty of the sort of running schoolboys are hauled over the coals for.


Seeking a second run to Panesar at fine-leg he jogged into the crease with his bat almost tucked under his arm rather than outstretched for the line, and with no part of his anatomy grounded, the third umpire gave him out.

Any hopes England had of quickly wrapping up the innings soon evaporated when Mills cut loose with some bold, but authentic strokes on both sides of the wicket, surging past his previous Test highest of 31.

He dominated a stand of 89 in 20 overs before an inside edge crashed into his stumps.

With Daniel Flynn unable to bat following his sickening injury on day one, and mindful of his two less able tail-enders, Taylor then accelerated the scoring.

England's fielding did not help their cause and Sidebottom's equanimity, never far from boiling point during combat, was severely tested by three maddening moments in an over.

Vaughan fumbled Kevin Pietersen's underarm shy at the stumps which allowed four overthrows, Stuart Broad helped a Taylor hook over the ropes for six when he could have taken a simple catch had he been on the boundary, and Ian Bell failed to hold a stinging drive in the covers.

Taylor saved the biggest of the blows to bring up his maiden Test 150, launching Sidebottom into the top tier at mid-wicket.

Anderson was not introduced until half an hour before lunch but though he remained expensive he captured the remaining three wickets.

However, the typical Kiwi rearguard makes it likely that England will somehow have to conjure up a mammoth total in order to wrestle control of the contest.

see also
Strauss warns of hard work ahead
24 May 08 |  Cricket
England v NZ photos day two
24 May 08 |  England
Video warns of cricket danger
24 May 08 |  Cricket
New Zealand in England in 2008
12 May 08 |  Cricket

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