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Page last updated at 17:46 GMT, Friday, 16 May 2008 18:46 UK

Sidebottom puts England in charge

First Test, Lord's (day two, close) New Zealand 277 v England 68-0

By David Ornstein

Ryan Sidebottom (left) and Kevin Pietersen (right)
Sidebottom, out of sorts on day one, took the last four New Zealand wickets

Ryan Sidebottom took 4-55 on day two of the first Test as England established a strong position from which to push for victory against New Zealand at Lord's.

Sidebottom had Jacob Oram caught at slip and then bowled Kyle Mills with the second new ball just before lunch.

He then skittled Tim Southee and Daniel Vettori (48) to finish with 4-5 for the day as the Kiwis were 277 all out.

Alastair Cook (43) and Andrew Strauss (24) guided England to 68-0 when bad light brought play to a premature end.

Trailing New Zealand's first innings total by 209 runs, England will hope to chase down their target and then build a healthy lead on Saturday.

The weather forecast is not promising, however, and another day disrupted by poor light and rain would leave both sides struggling to force a result.

England, nonetheless, are likely to be buoyed by a day that saw little go against them.

Indeed, Michael Vaughan's men will have been delighted that play was able to start on time because, but for the welcome absence of rainfall and a sharper chill in the air, conditions were similar to those from which they profited on day one.

A fairly thick covering of cloud, allied to a cold, moist track under foot, suggested that both swing and seam were likely, hence Sidebottom and James Anderson opening the bowling.

And, although the low temperatures and lack of humidity ensured movement was not as forthcoming as the pair would have expected, Sidebottom's patient first spell was soon rewarded.

He tempted Oram to drive at one that seamed marginally away from the left-hander, coaxing an edge that flew straight to Andrew Strauss at first slip for his first wicket of the match.

But the morning session was by no means straightforward for England, who would have been keen to quickly wrap up New Zealand's innings.

The hosts were frustrated by Vettori and Mills, yet they produced a disciplined effort with the ball and limited the Black Caps to just 52 pre-lunch runs.

Vettori and Mills enjoyed some success off Stuart Broad and Monty Panesar, guiding New Zealand past 250, but the second new ball was taken two overs before the break and Sidebottom duly struck with a delivery that swung into Mills and clattered his stumps.

Only two deliveries had been sent down after the re-start when bad light stopped play but Sidebottom's first ball after the resumption knocked back Tim Southee's middle stump - the 19-year-old playing across the line to a full-pitch ball that swung back at him a touch.

After the light was taken for a second time, Vettori continued to battle valiantly, swatting James Anderson for a hat-trick of boundaries through point in the 84th over.

But, two runs short of his half-century, the New Zealand skipper offered no shot to a straight Sidebottom delivery that handed the Nottinghamshire seamer - out of sorts and wickless on Thursday - his remarkable figures.

Alastair Cook
Cook was closing in on his 10th Test 50 with bad light ended play
In weather not overly different to that which New Zealand suffered in on day one, England made a far more accomplished start with the bat.

Despite concerns over their effectiveness as a partnership, Cook and Strauss appeared anything but uncomfortable together and were seldom troubled either side of the day's third stoppage for light, which arrived with England 26-0.

When the evening session finally got underway the pair opened their shoulders and Cook in particular looked in fine fettle, pushing Southee past point and flicking him through square leg for consecutive boundaries, before running four off a drive through the covers.

Strauss returned to form and rediscovered his confidence with an unbeaten 173 in the decisive third Test against New Zealand in March, and he picked up where he left off against the same Kiwi bowling unit he faced in Napier.

Free of the indecision that lead to him being dropped before the Sri Lanka series last winter, the Middlesex batsman oozed confidence on his home ground and drove Oram for a stunning four and then pulled Martin to the same effect.

Cook was fortunate to survive when he edged Martin wide of the two slips and, while their ability to punish the bad balls was impressive, the openers came to rely more on singles and swift running between the wickets than boundaries.

They gave England the ideal start but, as is so often the case with the start of the international season in England, this Test match might well be decided by the weather.

see also
First Test day two photos
16 May 08 |  England
England in New Zealand 2008
03 Jul 07 |  Cricket

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