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May 23, 2008
Partnership of the day
For a long time, any contributions from New Zealand's top three has been a welcome bonus, so the relative success of Jamie How and Aaron Redmond was a notable moment. Their partnership of 80 was New Zealand's first half-century opening stand since December 2006, and the best since Stephen Fleming and Mark Richardson added 163 against England, at Trent Bridge, in June 2004. Since then 14 opening partnerships have been tried with precious little success, so the New Zealand management will be crossing all the fingers they have about the latest combination.
Shot of the day
Ross Taylor played most of the flashing shots, but one of the more important came from the normally very restrained Redmond. This match had been billed as the return of Monty Panesar to his favourite ground and he was brought into the attack for the 10th over. His first ball spun and took the edge of How's bat, so it was clear he was going to play a key role even early in the game. New Zealand, though, weren't going to let him settle. To the final delivery of Panesar's second over Redmond stepped down the pitch, thumping him dismissively straight down the ground. Panesar's economy rate of over four-and-a-half is a key reason why New Zealand have been able to keep England at bay.
Angle of the day
Left-arm round the wicket is quickly becoming the new reverse swing, the type of bowling that gets people talking because it is aggressive and different. Ryan Sidebottom is becoming a master of the art, having only attempted it in anger during the tour of New Zealand. It is one of the rarer angles a batsman will face and it has posed the New Zealanders plenty of problems. Sidebottom set-up Redmond beautifully with deliveries that went away, before bringing one back into the right hander. James Marshall was then nailed by one which swung back.
Contest of the day
It was brief (very brief) but compelling all the same. Almost as soon as Brendon McCullum made his way to the middle Michael Vaughan called Panesar back onto action. The first ball McCullum faced, he tried to loft it over mid-on and got a leading edge away from the fielders. When he was back on strike two deliveries later Panesar let out a deafening lbw appeal, which Simon Taufel correctly rejected. And in the next over, McCullum rocked back and cut a short ball to the boundary, before depositing Panesar over deep midwicket for six. But Monty stayed calm and three balls later tossed one up outside off stump. McCullum couldn't resist the drive and got a thin edge which rebounded off Tim Ambrose's gloves and into the hands of an alert Paul Collingwood at slip. Monty had his man.
Spell of the day
James Anderson began with a worryingly poor spell from the Stretford End, his first four overs costing 23. He wasn't recalled until after lunch, but the switch to the Brian Statham End worked wonders. Anderson charged in, having How caught behind before a rapid bouncer burst through Daniel Flynn's visor removing a tooth. Jacob Oram was given a working over, getting struck on the helmet and the gloves, for a time looking anything other than the batsman who hit that final-day 101 at Lord's. Anderson's spell ended with the figures of 8-0-43-1, but that barely tells the story of the drama it included.
Injury of the day
At Lord's it was McCullum getting dusted up and here it was the turn of Flynn, who showed real fighting earlier in the week. However, facing Anderson in the middle of his rapid burst, Flynn was late on a pull, the ball squeezed between his helmet and visor and smacked into his mouth. The super slow-mo replays showed it all in gory detail and as Flynn staggered, his tooth could be seen falling out. The physio was quickly on the scene to inspect the damage and also picked up the tooth. Shortly after Flynn left the field, the news soon came through that he was fit to bat again. His reputation as a fighter grows.
Ball change of the day
Darrell Hair was the same assured and authoritative figure on his return to the Test arena as the man who'd left it 21 months ago. He had a couple of early appeals from Sidebottom to deal with and they were calmly answered in the negative, while the caught behind of How was a simple decision. Then, in the 39th over, there was a problem with the ball. The last time Hair was looking at a ball during a Test, well we all know what happened. On this occasion, though, it was nothing more than it had gone out of shape - as happened at Lord's - and it was promptly changed. The only time the players marched off the field was when they were offered the light.
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