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Last Updated: Monday, 24 May, 2004, 16:37 GMT 17:37 UK
England show perfect timing
Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent at Lord's

England won an absorbing Test match by pacing their run chase absolutely perfectly on the final day as Nasser Hussain rounded things off with an unbeaten century.

Andrew Strauss
Strauss looks like establishing himself as a fixture in the side

New Zealand might consider with some justification that luck was not on their side, but, in truth, their bowlers were unable to create the necessary pressure.

Andrew Strauss led the way for the second time in the game, and another century seemed a formality until Hussain made an error of judgement and called him for a single to point's left hand.

The irony of the situation will have escaped no one - Hussain is the man who is most threatened by Strauss's success.

But while Hussain was most certainly to blame for the mix-up, he did attempt to save Strauss and sacrifice himself by turning when all seemed lost and heading for the end where the run out would be completed.

Unbeknown to Hussain, Strauss had already overtaken him and was doomed to fall 17 runs short of becoming only the third man in history to score two centuries in his first Test.

The guilt of running out his young partner in such circumstances would have shattered a lesser man but, typically, Hussain was galvanised as if he now knew he owed it to his team to see them to their target.

He was joined by his old friend, Graham Thorpe, who is one of the finest players in the game in this situation.

Calmly and assuredly, Thorpe comfortably outscored Hussain and was particularly effective in dealing with the danger man, Daniel Vettori.

Daryl Tuffey
New Zealand's seam attack lacked the necessary penetration

The spinner went over the wicket and aimed for the rough, which made it extremely difficult for the right-handed Hussain to score from him without taking a risk.

Being left-handed, it was a more straightforward proposition for Thorpe, and once his main threat was blunted, Stephen Fleming must have known the game was up.

The difference between the two sides was their respective bowling attacks.

New Zealand were found wanting in their seam department, and badly missed the injured Shane Bond.

He should be fit for Headingley, where England's selectors face the toughest dilemma to confront them for many years.

It seems inconceivable that Strauss can be dropped after this effort - and Hussain again showed his value today.

England can take the easy option and leave Ashley Giles out of the side at a ground where he played for the first and only time in 2002 and took 1-134 against India.

But if Michael Vaughan is fit they must still decide who bats where, and this will give a guide to their long-term thinking.




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