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March 16, 2013
New Zealand 254 (McCullum 69, Watling 60, Broad 6-51) and 77 for 1 (f/o) (Fulton 41*) trail England 465 by 134 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Stuart Broad, looking sharp and contented again, ripped out New Zealand's tail to finish with six wickets and secure a first-innings lead of 211 for England. Alastair Cook faced a tricky decision at tea about whether to enforce the follow-on. Understandably, he opted to put New Zealand in again; an unsettled weather forecast, particularly on the final day, must have been a decisive factor.
For his own sanity, it is to be hoped that Cook did not follow-up by studying when England last enforced the follow-on in an overseas Test: Durban in 1999, with Gary Kirsten marking the end of the old millennium by making an unbeaten 275 out of 572 for 7. England tried nine bowlers, including Nasser Hussain, a repentant captain.
In seeking to avoid unsettled weather, Cook instead had to oversee an unsettled England pace attack, which was underpowered second time around, with James Anderson, ankle strapped, grumbling wearily about the footholds and labouring with a sore back.
England's only wicket in 33 overs fell to Monty Panesar, a scintillating catch around the corner by Ian Bell to dismiss Hamish Rutherford, and cheering as well for the new vice-captain, Matt Prior, who held up the game to press for the position. Panesar, for all his economy, will hope to find more turn as the match progresses.
Broad finished with 6 for 51, his third-best figures in his Test career. His pace was around 135kph, but his control was immaculate and there was a zing in everything he did. This was Broad Total, exploring the cavities in New Zealand's line-up and freshening the air with optimism. He was a walking advertisement for the benefits of England's rotation policy and they will be desperate that his mood persists through back-to-back Ashes series.
Brendon McCullum was the key wicket for England, dismissed for 69 from 94 balls as he forced Steven Finn off the back foot and offered a comfortable catch to Jonathan Trott at second slip. In a Test distinguished by fine counter-attacking cricket by two excellent wicketkeeper-batsmen, McCullum played just as pugnaciously as Prior had for England on the second day.
Basin Reserve was full for a Test, the first time that had happened in New Zealand for several years. It helps when the capacity is only around 11,000 and there are several thousand England supporters in town to help persuade the locals that there is a game on worth watching.
Packed to the brim, the ground had a more intimate atmosphere than ever. The strong second-day breeze had also lessened, adding to the convivial feel as spectators strolled around. But New Zealand supporters only had to glance at the scoreboard for this sense of well-being to depart. England are well placed to go 1-0 up in the series unless Cyclone Sandra - or perhaps Hurricane Brendon - has a say in things.
New Zealand, 66 for 3 overnight, needed another 200 to avoid the follow-on. They had produced much to admire on the second day, only to find themselves well behind the game by the close. They were even further behind the game at 89 for 5 when Kane Williamson and Dean Brownlie fell in the first half hour.
Broad was given an immediate opportunity after his wickets of Rutherford and Ross Taylor had allowed England to finish the second day on a high. Williamson looked well drilled, at 22 a decent batsman in the making, but fell to a sharp reaction catch in his follow-through by Broad, who clung on around chest high and looked delighted at the realisation that the ball was nestling in his hand.
Three balls later, Brownlie followed. He is a fine back-foot player, but there is a length to bowl to Brownlie, as South Africa can also testify after New Zealand's recent tour, a length when he routinely plays back when he would be better forward. Anderson found it, and found some reverse inswing to defeat his defensive shot. Asad Rauf's lbw decision was marginal because the ball had struck Brownlie just above the roll, and the batsman opted for a review, only for DRS to conclude that the ball would have clipped the top of middle.
It would have been 95 for 6 if Cook had not been such a conservative captain. Evidence of this match suggests that McCullum, his opposite number, would have posted a third slip to Anderson but Cook did not. Watling edged at inviting height, and the ball scooted away to the third man boundary.
McCullum's solution soon became evident. Beaten on the outside edge by Broad, he crashed his next ball for four and then hooked him for six. The pressure built by Panesar at one end was released by Finn at the other. McCullum took advantage and reverse-swept Joe Root to reach his fifty shortly before lunch.
Anderson 's strenuous efforts after lunch went unrewarded. England lost a review for an lbw appeal in the first over after lunch when McCullum was on 58. They chose not to review when Anderson came close again the following over and then had Watling, on 21, dropped low at second slip by Trott. When McCullum fell, New Zealand still needed 77 to avoid the follow-on with four wickets remaining. Tim Southee soon followed, unwisely hooking Finn with two fielders back for the shot.
Watling had been very much the junior partner in a stand of 100 in 31 overs with McCullum. While McCullum bristled against the quicks, Watling's passive resistance against Panesar provided a monotonous undercard. Only when McCullum was dismissed did he grow in ambition, reaching 60 before he edged Broad to the wicketkeeper.
Neil Wagner became Broad's fifth victim, caught at the wicket for nought. New Zealand's last pair were 12 short of the follow-on mark when Broad's bouncer befuddled Trent Boult, whose fend confused Panesar at mid-on even more. Broad, unusually when things go wrong, saw fit to smile and defeated Boult's haymaker with his next delivery to end the innings.
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