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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 March 2008, 04:51 GMT
Sidebottom fires England comeback
First Test, Hamilton: New Zealand 470 & 147-8 v England 348 (stumps, day four)

By Jamie Lillywhite

Ryan Sidebottom
Sidebottom leads the celebrations after securing his hat-trick
Ryan Sidebottom took a hat-trick as England hit back in astonishing fashion late on day four, New Zealand closing 269 runs ahead at 147-8 in Hamilton.

Having taken a first innings lead of 122, New Zealand were coasting with Stephen Fleming's serene 44th Test 50.

The Kiwis pressed but, aided by superb catching, England took four wickets in nine balls, Sidebottom with 5-37.

Monty Panesar added 3-33 after Paul Collingwood and debutant Tim Ambrose hit fifties in England's obdurate 348.

On a gloriously sunny morning at Seddon Park, the spectators arrived in healthy numbers hoping for more entertainment than had been seen in the previous three days.

But until the dramatic final session, the depressingly docile wicket, plus England's refusal to alter their defensive gameplan, meant the liberally sprinkled grass banks remained quiet, more reminiscent of a garden party.

The Kiwis began with seamer Chris Martin in tandem with the spin of skipper Daniel Vettori.

Andrew Strauss
Strauss holds on in the deep on a day of superb England catching

When Jeetan Patel was introduced to provide spin at both ends after almost an hour's play, 18 runs had been scored from the 14 overs.

His opening delivery was a long hop and allowed Ambrose to cut a rare boundary.

Mainly it was out and out defence and the fifty partnership took 158 balls.

Collingwood briefly broke free to skip down the pitch and loft a six, but having made his eighth Test fifty, he was caught on the back leg and Daryl Harper gave him lbw for 66, a decision that angered him.

To the delight of his parents and sisters present at the ground, Ambrose became the ninth England wicket-keeper to score fifty on debut.

But when he edged to slip in the first over after lunch, once again the tail quickly subsided.

With New Zealand having failed to adhere to the wishes of the neutrals by sending big-hitting Brendon McCullum in to open, the next major talking point revolved around Steve Harmison and how he would fare.

Before that, however, Sidebottom, who had taken two wickets in two balls at the end of the first innings, found some movement to catch the edge of Matthew Bell, smartly caught low by Ambrose.

Monty Panesar
Panesar provided an ideal foil and took three key wickets

It was Collingwood Vaughan turned to for his first bowling change, before Harmison was finally introduced after 17 overs for a solitary over before tea.

Harmison's speed was in the low 80s and after the interval he was helped effortlessly over the ropes backward of square for six by the languid Fleming.

That inspired How to up the ante and he took the lead to 200 with successive leg-side boundaries off Collingwood.

Vaughan, mindful of an awkward final day for his batsmen, ran of out patience with Harmison after four overs for 24.

He was replaced by Sidebottom, who struck in his second over back, although thanks to a stunning leaping catch to his left at deep mid-wicket by Matthew Hoggard, How in disbelief having to reluctantly head for the pavilion.

When Fleming's innings was ended by another excellent Alastair Cook catch at point, the Kiwis maintained an admirable attacking instinct by promoting McCullum to number five.

But he swiped his second ball from Panesar and Andrew Strauss took a safe catch running a considerable distance from mid-on.

Cook produced an even more spectacular catch to dislodge Mathew Sinclair, diving full length in the slips when Sidebottom began a new over, and the 11th hat-trick by an England bowler was completed by a ball that swung in to trap Jacob Oram bang in front.

That made it 115-6 and a lead of 237 and only four runs had been added when first innings centurion Ross Taylor mis-timed a flighted one and gave Panesar a straightforward return catch.

Suddenly the England supporters, having been becalmed for the majority of the four days, were singing and dancing to the familiar chants, but Vettori remained to ensure that any run chase for the tourists would be a far from easy one.

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