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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 March 2008, 04:43 GMT
Battling England restrict Kiwis
First Test, Hamilton: New Zealand 282-6 v England (day one)

By Paresh Soni

Ryan Sidebottom was the pick of England's bowlers
Paceman Sidebottom was the pick of England's bowlers
England fought hard to restrict New Zealand to 282-6 on day one of the first Test after a typically aggressive knock from Brendon McCullum.

The Kiwis were struggling on 191-5 despite Jamie How's 92 as Alastair Cook took three sharp catches.

But McCullum blasted two sixes in his 51 off 55 balls and added 86 with Ross Taylor, who made an unbeaten 54.

Ryan Sidebottom, who was the pick of the bowlers, had McCullum caught behind to finish with figures of 2-39.

That frenetic ending to the final session was out of tune with a largely attritional day's cricket which confirmed this will be a hard-fought series between two teams looking to re-establish themselves.

It began with openers How and Matthew Bell hardly setting the pulses racing after Daniel Vettori won the toss.

Once they had seen off the new ball and early swing movement, however, they did punish just about everything that was too full, particularly from Matthew Hoggard and the innocuous Steve Harmison.


Bell hurt namesake Ian's wrist with a powerful pull shot which thudded into him at short-leg but, fortunately for the England fielder, X-rays revealed nothing more than heavy bruising and he hopes to play a part later in the game.

He then departed in tame fashion, edging a Harmison half-volley to Cook at third slip, but Stephen Fleming settled into an elegant rhythm at the start of his farewell series.

The former skipper twice clipped Harmison off his legs and drove Hoggard through the covers and mid-off for early fours as the hosts reached lunch on 87-1.

Spinner Monty Panesar tossed the ball up either side of the interval and got the ball to skid off the surface without posing a genuine threat.

Indeed, much of the action was far from compelling before Cook enlivened proceedings with a stunning dive to remove Fleming for 41 and reward the accurate Sidebottom.

Jamie How
How easily bettered his previous best Test score of 37

When Matthew Sinclair drove a return catch straight back to Collingwood, England were in the ascendancy.

But How, who had eschewed any risk-taking until then, started to flourish in the afternoon with Taylor for company.

Harmison, bowling at around 81/82mph, was treated with particular contempt as the scoring finally moved out of the realms of pedestrian and touched three an over briefly.

But How's composure lapsed as he entered the 90s and after a couple of lbw shouts from Panesar he edged a classic slow left-armer's delivery to slip.

Collingwood, who was slightly unsighted by debutant keeper Tim Ambrose, held on expertly and Cook was again in the action shortly after, soaring to his right to pluck out another stunner after Jacob Oram (10) drove airily at Hoggard.

But McCullum continued the terrific form he showed in the limited-overs games, cutting Hoggard with real authority and coming down the wicket to clip Harmison through mid-wicket in an early signal of his intent.

When the second new ball was taken he promptly pulled Sidebottom to the ropes, while Taylor drove Hoggard exquisitely through the covers and down the ground.

The wicket-keeper/batsman swept Panesar and slashed Hoggard over third man for sixes en route to reaching his half-century, while Taylor produced a more restrained cover-drive off the seamer to reach his fifty in the same over.

The mayhem ended when another McCullum swish caught the edge to give Ambrose his first dismissal.

And despite the late swing in fortunes, a misfiring Harmison and some untidy ground fielding, England will be happy enough after the opening exchanges of the three-match series.

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