Early breakthrough a must for New Zealand hopes
New Zealand will need to make a bowling breakthrough early on the third morning of the second National Bank Test if they are to achieve their goal of beating England in Wellington and going to the final Test in Auckland next week to decide the series.
England finished a weather reduced first session of the Test in Wellington today on 92/2 having been put in to bat by New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming.
With post-rain ground preparations delaying the start of the match until 3.30pm on the second day, it was always going to be a tough task for New Zealand to get a win.
However, they removed openers Michael Vaughan, caught at slip for seven by Fleming from Chris Drum's delivery that moved away from him slightly while Marcus Trescothick got the speed wobbles, always a fatal condition against left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori, and he departed for 37 after an attractive innings.
But with two fine days forecast, the pitch is only going to get better so New Zealand have to make the most of it in the morning. There will be an early start, at 10am, in a bid to make up some lost time, and New Zealand will be hoping some sweating beneath the covers produces the spice that will enable them to capitalise and push for the wickets they need.
Because as New Zealand coach Denis Aberhart said after play tonight, New Zealand only want to bat once in this match.
There was encouraging tightness in the New Zealand bowling today in the absence of Chris Cairns. Chris Martin was named in the side as Cairns' replacement, the only change in the two teams from the first Test, and was bowled as first change down wind.
Martin produced some outstanding deliveries to the left-handers Trescothick and Mark Butcher but neither were able to get an edge to him.
Drum bowled into the wind and was able to get some swing, although not outrageous by any means, and gained Vaughan's wicket to continue the lean trot he has endured during the series.
Ian Butler ratcheted up the speed and bowled several balls around the 140km/h mark but was used sparingly by Fleming. While he did beat the bat, he was slightly errant in line at times and also struck no-balling problems, possibly the result of shifty ground after the rain.
England had to be encouraged by Mark Butcher's seemingly painless batting after he just made it into the side after recovering from a cracked thumb suffered during the first Test in Christchurch. He was unbeaten on 24 at stumps and included among his run-scoring shots were two extra cover drives for boundaries from Vettori and Drum respectively.
Hussain was also starting to open out, pulling at balls from Butler and Martin with effect while reaching 16.
Trescothick said after stumps that the wicket square and the area surrounding the block had been very muddy early in the day and at the time the players went out they knew it wasn't going to get too much better but they wanted to get things underway.
There were pieces of the pitch coming out of the bowler's foot marks and these represented a potential problem for batsmen later in the pitch, but the pitch itself had been fine and it played better than many anticipated during the 30 overs of play possible.
"There is still a lot of cricket to play here, it just comes down to who wants it most," Trescothick said.
Aberhart said the pitch didn't do as much as it was thought it might.
"We thought they would be more helpful conditions," he said.
With the shortened duration of the match he said New Zealand only wanted to bat once and it was already apparent that Vettori was going to have to bowl a lot in the game but he was confident that having come through the pre-Test fitness testing that he would be capable of carrying that burden.
"I thought Chris Martin bowled well and with a bit of zip and was a bit unlucky not to pick up wickets," he said.