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Last Updated: Friday, 7 March 2008, 04:44 GMT
England made to struggle by Kiwis
First Test, Hamilton: New Zealand 470 v England 286-6 (stumps, day three)

By Oliver Brett

Kevin Pietersen
Kevin Pietersen batted patiently, hitting 42 from 131 balls
England ground their way to 286-6 on day three of the first Test, still trailing New Zealand by 184 runs.

Michael Vaughan made 63 when set for a major score before Andrew Strauss and an ultra-patient Kevin Pietersen were dismissed for 43 and 42 respectively.

England scored just 199 runs in the 93 overs bowled in the day, giving their travelling supporters little to cheer.

Spinner Daniel Vettori bowled superbly for figures of 2-60 as the Hamilton pitch remained flat, slow and low.

England's victory ambitions appeared to have evaporated, but they will be reasonably confident of collecting a draw, and hoping for more sporty wickets in the second and third Tests.

To achieve that, however, they need Paul Collingwood to add as many runs as possible to his composed unbeaten 41.

Spinners Jeetan Patel (1-90) and Vettori did most of the bowling, and though they looked threatening at times - particularly after lunch - they had to work hard for their wickets.

But England's batsmen plainly lacked confidence and it was disappointing that none of them came close to recording the centuries that were apparently there for the taking.

They began the day in reasonable shape on 87-2, with Vaughan on 44 and Strauss - who had come in after night-watchman Matthew Hoggard - on one.

Oliver Brett

The two batsmen cruised through the first hour without alarm, and it was a surprise when New Zealand got the breakthrough.

Vaughan, having pulled Mills crisply for four, drove the same bowler down the ground for another boundary.

But runs proved less easy to come by against the spinners, and the England captain was playing a defensive shot when dismissed by a Patel off-break.

Expecting the delivery to turn more than it did, his thin outside edge was easily pouched by wicket-keeper Brendon McCullum.

At lunch, England were not exactly in trouble at 159-3, but Strauss - having looked in reasonable nick - fell three balls after the interval, bowled through the gate by Vettori as he tried an on-drive.

Pietersen's three-and-half hour innings was a curious one. It began brightly as he hit his third ball for six, driving Patel high over mid-off with complete conviction.

The loss of Strauss drained him of his normal aggression, however, and he spent most of the afternoon session defending cautiously and scampering the odd single to an expertly-set field.

Another encouraging partnership came to an early end when Ian Bell fell for 25.

Batting with a swollen right hand after taking a knock in the field, Bell hit four solid enough boundaries before being bowled by Kyle Mills off his thigh just when he seemed to have settled.

Dan Vettori
Daniel Vettori celebrates after dismissing Andrew Strauss

Pietersen's first two boundaries finally came just before tea, with a pull off Chris Martin and a cut off Vettori.

But the 20-minute break again put the brakes on him, and it was left to Paul Collingwood to try to lift an increasingly sluggish scoring rate.

The one-day skipper showed some imagination, giving himself a modicum of room to take five boundaries off Patel, four of them on the more thinly patrolled off-side.

The momentum remained with New Zealand, though, as Vettori finally ended Pietersen's vigil.

Looking to get to the pitch of a delivery pitched on off-stump, the Hampshire batsman squeezed the ball off bat and pad back down the wicket to the Black Caps captain.

Vettori dived to his left to take the chance and debutant Tim Ambrose stepped out to the crease with the scoreboard on a precarious 245-6.

The Warwickshire wicket-keeper played nervously to begin with, as one would expect, but after scoring his first run, hit two confident boundaries and one streaky one.

He was 23 not out at the close, with Collingwood - arguably the best England batsman on show during the day - on 41.

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