Second Test, Old Trafford (day four) England 202 & 294-4 bt New Zealand 381 & 114 by six wickets
By Jamie Lillywhite
Strauss played at a perfect pace and took England within 59 of their target
A century from Andrew Strauss helped England to a six-wicket victory in an absorbing second Test at Old Trafford.
Resuming on 76-1 in search of 294, Strauss and skipper Michael Vaughan played positively in a stand of 90.
Vaughan fell shortly before lunch after a fluent 48, but Strauss reached his 12th Test ton before driving Iain O'Brien to slip for 106.
Kevin Pietersen was needlessly run out with 56 needed, but Ian Bell (21) and Paul Collingwood (24) saw England home.
Barely 24 hours earlier, few could have realistically believed that England had even a remote hope of breaking out the champagne.
Having collapsed to 202 all out and conceded a first innings lead of 179, they were staring down the barrel when the Kiwis reached 50-1, before the Monty Panesar-inspired collapse to 114 all out.
New Zealand, so often accustomed to the role of underdogs, seemed to implode from that position of total dominance on Sunday and for much of Monday could do little to regain the initiative.
That is not to take anything away from England, who went about the majority of the chase in textbook fashion, rotating the strike, running purposefully and generally putting pressure on the bowlers and fielders.
Once again the bone-jarring north-easterly breeze was drifting across the ground, but it was movement in the wicket England were concerned with and they tried to negate it by calling for the heavy roller before play began.
Whether that nullified the threat is open to question but Daniel Vettori and Iain O'Brien, who posed all manner of problems in the first innings with some prodigious movement, had little success.
Pietersen's unnecessary dismissal caused some butterflies in the pavilion
Vaughan looked a different player from the first innings and produced some vintage shots with a classic cover drive taking the runs required below 200.
A wild throw from wicket-keeper Brendon McCullum flew away for four overthrows to bring up the fifty partnership between Strauss and Vaughan.
Vettori brought on Jacob Oram, who restricted England so successfully in the first innings.
But after an hour's play, 53 runs had been added for no further loss and the Kiwi skipper called his troops together on the outfield for what amounted to an Emergency General Meeting.
There were other moments to suggest it was not going to be New Zealand's day - a leading edge from Vaughan fell short of cover and the skipper collected four off the shoulder of the bat, with the ball looping high over gully.
Vaughan's confidence was soaring and he played a trademark backfoot drive for four, but 25 minutes before the interval tried one shot too many against Chris Martin and edged to the keeper.
For a brief period the ball began to move a bit more off the pitch, and Vettori brought himself into the attack 15 minutes before lunch against Pietersen, who had fallen lbw to him twice before in the series.
Although the first ball produced a massive appeal, looping over the stumps for four leg byes, there was never a sustained period of pressure, and Pietersen merely continued in the same positive manner as his colleagues.
After lunch he sauntered down the pitch to launch Vettori back over his head for six, and England continued comfortably. Or so it seemed.
Just when the tourists had an air of resignation, Strauss saw his composed innings ended by a brilliant low catch by Ross Taylor at slip.
It should not have had an effect, but Pietersen, ever the egotist, took the positive running motif too far with his pursuit for a second.
McCullum neatly collected Martin's throw from fine-leg, whipped off the bails and the match took another twist.
Suddenly, master spinner Vettori was bowling to the dreadfully out-of-form Collingwood, there was a huge appeal for lbw - rejected after close consideration by umpire Simon Taufel - and misfields were replaced by diving stops.
O'Brien deceived both Collingwood and Bell with slower balls in the same over but could not hold on to return chances, the second as straightforward as they come.
Collingwood remained in painfully scratchy style, but Bell eased the jitters with the occasional pleasing stroke as the runs gradually whittled down.
In the last over before tea, Collingwood took the bold approach with some agricultural boundaries to seal a remarkable triumph, England's highest run fourth innings chase at the famous Manchester ground.
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