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May 26, 2008
Decision of the day
The most noticeable feature of the fourth day was how comparatively docile the pitch turned out to be. The odd ball still turned, and few also bounced, but nothing popped quite like yesterday. The main reason for that was England's decision to use the heavy roller. It deadened the surface for long enough for Andrew Strauss and Michael Vaughan to give England a head start to their chase. It was a calculated gamble, but the hard nature of the surface meant the cracks were compacted rather than broken up. "We took a little bit of a punt by putting the heavy roller on it this morning, to try and deaden it," said Vaughan, "and it seemed to work."
Shot of the day
England's defensive mindset created their problems in the first innings, so they made a conscious effort in the run chase to be far more assertive. From the outset Strauss and Vaughan were looking for quick singles. But the shot that signified that England wouldn't prod their way to the target came with a beautiful inside-out cover drive by Vaughan off Daniel Vettori. It was Vaughan at his best, elegant and graceful.
Shot of the day II
Kevin Pietersen has been out of sorts this season. Perhaps his mind is wandering towards the IPL, but whatever the reason he has played a reserved game that doesn't come naturally. Vettori has caused him no end of problems, dismissing him twice in contrasting fashion. He doesn't like to be dominated by one bowler, so he took a chance to make a statement of his own, dancing down the pitch and launching him over long-on for six.
Overthrows of the day
New Zealand looked jittery from the start of the play, with no-balls creeping into Vettori's bowling and fumbles in the field to match England from the second morning. Strauss and Vaughan were running them ragged with quick singles, and when Strauss dropped the ball into the off side for a sharp run McCullum went off in pursuit. He collected the ball before hurling it at the non-striker's stumps. It missed, and the man backing up couldn't stop it as one turned into five. The momentum was with England.
Frustration of the day
Jacob Oram, who injured his neck on Sunday, had recovered sufficiently to take the field today. His introduction into the attack was delayed, as Iain O'Brien was given the early into-the-gale role, and when he was finally handed the ball it was hard work for him to pull his large frame into the wind. After putting all that effort in, a bowler really doesn't want to see chances fall short of fielders, but it happened twice in an over to Oram. Vaughan drove on the up, the ball falling a few feet in front of Jamie How at point, then three balls later a leading edge landed in more space on the off side. Oram had a few words to Vaughan, but they may have been carried off in the wind.
Close call of the day
Pietersen is always a livewire at the crease and loves a short single. But trying to steal one to short leg is taking things to extremes. He jabbed a full ball from Vettori into the leg side, where James Marshall got a hand on it. Pietersen thought the ball had gone past and set off down the pitch, before quickly having to spin around and dive back in. A direct hit would have been close, and it brought back memories of when Ravi Bopara was run-out from slip, by Mahela Jayawardene, during the Galle Test against Sri Lanka last December. Pietersen was eventually caught short, but in more conventional style by a bullet-arm throw from Chris Martin.
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