NZ XI v Eng XI, Tour match, Queenstown, 1st day

Bell, Neesham shine on first day

Andrew McGlashan in Queenstown

February 27, 2013

Comments: 46 | Text size: A | A

England XI 357 for 7 (Bell 127*, Cook 60, Neesham 4-65) v New Zealand XI
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Jimmy Neesham removed Kevin Pietersen as one of his three morning-session wickets, New Zealand XI v England XI, Tour match, Queenstown, 1st day, February 27, 2013
Jimmy Neesham picked up four wickets, including that of Kevin Pietersen © Getty Images
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England's top order was not entirely convincing on the opening day of their warm-up match against a New Zealand XI in Queenstown, but Ian Bell's hundred ensured they posted a reasonably healthy 357 for 7 while Jimmy Neesham was the most successful of the bowlers, taking 4 for 65.

Bell played neatly during the one-day series but before this match spoke of the importance of shifting tempos between the formats. He did as he said, playing out periods where the bowling was tight and picking off the loose deliveries. Although the bowling was inconsistent at times, these were not freebie runs.

His hundred, his second in consecutive first-class innings dating back to the Nagpur Test, came in the final half an hour of the day when he cover-drove his 13th boundary, to bring hearty applause from a small group of England supporters on the grass banks. He then expressed himself with a string of crisp fours. After his problems early on the India tour, with the distraction of waiting for the birth of his child, he now looks a batsman at ease again.

"Some of the one-day wickets we've played on here have been absolutely flat," Bell said. "So to play on a wicket a little bit more in the bowlers' favour was a good test - and it was nice to come through that. There's enough grass on there, a lot left on that pitch, so I think the new ball will be key. There was just enough seam movement all day, and I hope it will be the same throughout the game."

The five frontline bowlers in the opposition have all played for New Zealand at international level and the seam bowling in particular kept England on their toes. Nick Compton and Kevin Pietersen, two of the players who have joined for the Test leg, fell in the morning session during which there was movement for the pacemen on a well-grassed surface.

It may well be a sign of things to come. Like in England there can often be some early help, but as the ball grew softer and the day warmer, batting became easier. At times the main issue for the batsmen was a plane landing at the neighbouring airport. The opportunities for that perfect picture were plentiful.

By opening with Compton, England confirmed that there will not be any changes to the top seven on duty for the Test series. They also rested James Anderson and Steven Finn, leaving Stuart Broad and Graham Onions to compete for the final spot in the bowling line-up. That will be the interest for tomorrow.

Compton's 21 continued the trend from India where early hard work was not built into a more substantial innings. Although on this occasion, he received a decent delivery from Neesham, a nippy medium-pacer, which bounced from a length.

Jonathan Trott played a loose drive to be caught behind and Neesham's productive morning continued when he had Pietersen athletically caught by Hamish Rutherford, who grasped a sharp chance above his head. It had been a skittish innings from Pietersen, who did not middle much during his 36-ball stay, but he does not put much stock behind warm-up innings.

Alastair Cook fought through the tricky first session, picking off loose deliveries with trademark authority, but after lunch was given a life on 56 when Neil Broom spilled a chance at second slip when the ball burst through his hands, struck his forehead and left him with mild concussion and sizable lump. However, Cook could not build on the let-off and edged a cut against Neil Wagner.

Progress slowed as Bell and Joe Root took a cautious approach. Root had 4 off 27 balls before lifting the tempo, showing once again that he can shift comfortably between the formats. By tea he had almost caught up with Bell. The partnership was 97 when Root played inside the line against Carl Cachopa, who has a reputation for a golden-arm in domestic cricket, and lost his off stump.

Matt Prior was bustling from the moment he arrived, getting his first boundary with a sweet clip through midwicket, and scored at a run-a-ball during his stay. It was the most fluent batting by the new arrivals and the type of innings he so frequently produces until he lent back on a cut shot and picked out point to hand Neesham his fourth.

From New Zealand's perspective, this match was meant to be between two bowlers - Wagner and Mark Gillespie - with a spot in the Test squad up for grabs, but both were outshone by Neesham, although he is unlikely to be in Test consideration.

Wagner, though, picked up his second wicket when Chris Woakes got a leading edge to mid-on as Gillespie remained wicketless and expensive, although he was convinced he had Bell caught behind late in the day.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by JG2704 on (February 28, 2013, 9:37 GMT)

@Patrick Hayward on (February 28, 2013, 2:13 GMT) - Take it you've not seen what Woakes has done for Warwicks with the ball over the last few seasons then?

@jb633 on (February 28, 2013, 0:21 GMT) - The catalyst for losing our number 1 spot was the batting in the UAE where Broad actually bowled very well. I agree they should drop him/not include him if he's looking like he did for most of 2012. But that'sEngland for you these days - they keep players in their side for too long in the hope they'll rediscover their form

Posted by Meety on (February 28, 2013, 3:17 GMT)

Have to say, I think NZ maybe on a winner with Rutherford.

Posted by Lermy on (February 28, 2013, 2:42 GMT)

I hope Gillespie gets the nod ahead of Wagner for NZ. Wags just hasn't looked the goods at all at this level, whereas big Mark has done enough when he gets there, and might be able to put in consistent spells with a bit more pace. So far though his performance in this mat ch doesn't look good!

England 426 all out. NZ XI 154 for 3, Rutherford 78 n.o.

Posted by   on (February 28, 2013, 2:13 GMT)

Why is Woakes even in the squad. If our batting line up with Prior at #7 can't get it done in batting we are screwed. This is test cricket. Play 4 bowlers.

Posted by jb633 on (February 28, 2013, 0:21 GMT)

I am begging the England selectors to not pick Broad. The guy is a proven failure against any decent side. It would not suprise me if he picks up wickets in one test in the series, gets walloped in the Ashes and is saved for the winter tour by one decent spell in the last test. I think the bowling of Broad and Bresnan was the primary reason we lost the no 1 status so easily. We can't afford the luxury of having a trundler in the side who doesn't move the ball off the straight. I think the main thing we need to establish in this series is who is going to be our third seamer. We have two quality seamers at present and two quality spinners. Casting minds back to the last ashes we had a host of third seamers in form and we had the luxury of being able to drop our leading wicket taker, Finn. I am more pessimistic about the current situation as I have not seen much from any other seamer. Woakes does not convince me and I think we really miss a fit Tremlett. Broad and Bres should go.

Posted by SameOld on (February 28, 2013, 0:11 GMT)

@Nick Macdonald:

I take your point. My point, however, was that there is nothing gained by having another batmsan or "allrounder" who isn't likely to contribute a big score. NZ always carry a spinner whether appropriate to conditions or not (despite the Hobart win) and they seem set on Bruce Martin, so I included him even though I have never seen him bowl and am dubious of the impact he'll have. Wow, 11 no-balls in a day is pretty poor, Gillespie might need a bit longer. Maybe Wagner is a better pick. I do think he's been unlucky in the Tests he's played so far, and he can hold a bat (as can Bruce Martin, I'm told).

Posted by   on (February 27, 2013, 22:14 GMT)

Pointless to declare overnight as Broad/Swann need the batting practice, declare at lunch if we make it that far! Onions would be my third choice seam bowler ahead of Broad, if only Broad could put his undoubted talent to use most of the time rather than very little of the time!

Posted by JG2704 on (February 27, 2013, 21:19 GMT)

@trav29 on (February 27, 2013, 10:10 GMT) - If you read his comment he says this is a game KP ought to perform in and that KP always seems immune from criticism. He's not saying anything more than that , but it is true that whenever KP does something special it generally gets magnified by posters on here and whenever he fails (UAE for example where his highest score in 6 inns was around 30) it doesn't even get mentioned

@Nathan Bell on (February 27, 2013, 11:29 GMT) - I'm a big Broad fan but agree with you. If he's not bowling at full throttle he becomes so much less effective and Onions is a better bowler than that version for sure

Posted by JG2704 on (February 27, 2013, 21:18 GMT)

@R_U_4_REAL_NICK - I feel a huge difference between Bell and KP is that KP can look really awful one innings and then go into the next game and absolutely shine and then go into the next game and look average again. Whereas with Bell , you generally get a whole run of great form or a whole run where he looks absolutely clueless. The trouble with KP and even Morgan is you don't know which version will turn up My gripe about Bell is that the selectors seem reluctant to drop him when he's in the latter form because of his contributions when he's been in great form. Feel the same may be the case with Broad. I thought he looked good/sharp in the 1st few T20s but then by the end of the ODI series he looked like he did through most of 2012. But if Bell continues this form then keep him going as a top form Bell is an asset but as soon as the wheels start coming off drop him because then he becomes a liability

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (February 27, 2013, 21:07 GMT)

Ian Bell, a fine player. He is England's Tendulkar from the way he plays his shots. Surprisingly, he had a quiet tour of India without many runs except that one century he scored in one of the tests. There is nothing wrong with his technique and I can see him scoring a lot of runs in the upcoming back-to-back Ashes series. These tests against NZ should give him a good platform to regain some consistency in form and the conditions suits his stroke play too.

Posted by hhillbumper on (February 27, 2013, 21:04 GMT)

it was a good start today but that was all it was.

Posted by bumsonseats on (February 27, 2013, 18:12 GMT)

one of the best timers of a cricket ball in the modern game. so little effort in hitting a 4 or a 6. he upsets some who just don't realize just how good he is, which is a pity because on purely on cricketing ability, hes right up there

Posted by QingdaoXI on (February 27, 2013, 16:34 GMT)

Well played Bell and young Root. I always admired what Broad has done in recent one and half year to be in team ahead of bowlers like Onions and co. England please drop him and good to know that no Bresnan too in this series, They both are poor and are not good for long term. Broad needs to go back to play county cricket and should not be allowed in team for atleast 2 seasons. If learn from this exp and comes good, than he should find a place if not let him end like Domininic Cork as county cricketer. @Randyoz what are you doing here mate when you should be on the page of India vs Australia.

Posted by gsingh7 on (February 27, 2013, 16:31 GMT)

bell did well here , considering his recent form(including first ball duck in india )this nz pitch will suit him . he had lopsided career , good on swinging pitches mediocre on spinning tracks. i want nz to win toss and bowl first , anything below 200 for england wud shift balance of match in nz favour. nz should lift their game after being whitewashed in india and sa , they will be up to the challenge, i hope so.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (February 27, 2013, 16:17 GMT)

@Sir_Freddie_Flintoff: Spot on, the facts and stats speak for themselves. Stats and Bell haven't gone together throughout his career. Yes, he averages 66 against the Aussies, but for the most aesthetically pleasing batsman ever to have picked up a bat, England fans expect a few double tons in there, which he's rarely produced. That's always been the thing about Bell, often acknowledged as the best 'Net player' in the team (because he has every shot and looks glorious in the nets) but not the average you'd expect to match it. Still, to think he's not even England's best batsman but he's better than any single one of Australia's batsman is funny. Even Randy thinks so.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (February 27, 2013, 15:29 GMT)

As far as Ian Bell is concerned, he has 17x100, 34x50 in 83 Tests. That's a century every 8.3 innings and a 50 every 2.8 innings (1x50 every 2.4 completed innings). In India he had a 116* and 1x50 in 6 innings and has scored 6x50 and 1x100 in 2012 after a pretty amazing 2011. Not shabby, although his average is nearly 3 runs lower than KP.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (February 27, 2013, 14:55 GMT)

@NICK You don't get a Test average of 50 over an 8-year career by being mediocre. KP comes in for an increible amount of stick on these boards and no one who is a regular on here would say that he gets an easy ride. He has played 92 Tests and has 22x100, 29x50. That means a 50 every 3.1 innings (or every 2.9 completed innings) and a century every 7.2 innings. Historically, anything under one century per ten innings is considered a good rate. Since the start of 2011 he has 5x100, the lowest of them 149 and 9x50 and his 7 innings v India in the Autumn produced a 186 and 2x50. He is not nearly as inconsistant as some people claim!

Posted by Mitch1066 on (February 27, 2013, 14:47 GMT)

England should hopefully win this game and win both series but hope it challenge as need be ready for ashes defence we don't want another South Africa moment though South Africa just simply the best

Posted by AJ_Tiger86 on (February 27, 2013, 13:25 GMT)

Unbelievable to see some of these posts about Bell. This is a FACT: Bell averages 62 in test cricket in the last 3 years. That's the highest by any English batsman in that period. It's higher than Cook. It's higher than KP. It's higher than Trott. It's higher than Prior. Bell has just played a historical series clinching 100 in Mohali when England were in trouble at 94-3 in the 4th evening. He has played incredible match-winning knocks against India at home the previous year to take England to no. 1. He played match-winning 140 at Druban and a match-saving 70-odd at Cape Town against Steyn/Morkel. He averaged 65 in the Ashes down under. Bell in the last few years has been BY FAR England's most reliable and consistent performer. Only those people who don't actually watch any games, but insist on acting as pundits will question Bell's record. Thankfully, England management are not like that. Bell will remain in the side for at least 5/6 more years.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (February 27, 2013, 13:10 GMT)

@trav29 (post on February 27, 2013, 10:10 GMT): just read through my post, and can't find the word 'never' there... I'm not implying he NEVER performs; I just find it so fickle when people pick on the likes of Bell (who yes, has had lean periods) but admire the likes of KP who has similar stats and a lower highest score, and is Sehwagish - i.e. one big score followed by 3 or 4 mediocre ones.

A balanced team needs players like this, but I refuse to be sucked into the mindset that higher strike rates = better players. Performing when it matters is indeed important, and hats of to KP he has done that; but hang-on, so have others like the Cook's and Bell's of the world! P.S. glad you like my name.

Posted by venkatesh018 on (February 27, 2013, 13:06 GMT)

Andrew, What do you mean by face off between Broad and Onions? It is a no-brainer. If match fit, pick Onions as third seamer.

Posted by pom_don on (February 27, 2013, 13:04 GMT)

@RandyOz 'Once again Bell performs when it doesn't count!'........& once again Aus doesn't perform when it does count!

Posted by EdGreen on (February 27, 2013, 12:29 GMT)

Nice to see Jimmy Neesham do well - he's a hard working young player who has earnt his chances, and good that Bell Cook Root and Prior made runs - KP will likely (as usual) come good in the tests, and the rested Jimmy Anderson may well be devastating in NZ conditions

Posted by   on (February 27, 2013, 11:55 GMT)

@SameOld - that is the longest tail we've ever had. You really think that top 6 will score 350+? Fulton deserves to play. Gillespie won't be picked, seems like he is still under cooked bowling 11 no balls in one innings

Posted by Lmaotsetung on (February 27, 2013, 11:44 GMT)

Like I said after the Mumbai test, the next big score from KP will probably come during the Ashes. He'll get his occasional 60-70 odd with the usual stupid early dismissals like in the Ahmedabad tests. He's been operating like this the past 3-4 years now and yet hardly anyone ever notices. All they remember are his big knocks like the one in Sri lanka, against SA, and more recently the Mumbai test. How many failures in between these so called memorable innings?

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (February 27, 2013, 11:30 GMT)

If you hit 357 in a day's play at 4-an-over you can't complain too much. It was predictable that someone would make runs and someone would not, so there is nothing too unexpected here. Unfortunate that various players got starts, but didn't cash in, Cook weathered the early conditions and got a few, Bell got a ton, Root and Prior added runs. If the worse you can say is someone got runs when it didn't count that's a fairly healthy situation! Obviously we need to see how the England attack performs on this pitch before jumping to conclusions, but it looks like a decent day's work from here.

Posted by   on (February 27, 2013, 11:29 GMT)

After living and playing cricket in the UK for a year now... As a NZL supporter, Onions is more of a threat than Broad. Broad has lost it over the last year or so. Chuck him back to county cricket to work on it!

Posted by trav29 on (February 27, 2013, 10:10 GMT)

@nick the start of your username says it all. perhaps you have forgetten the innings he played last year in colombo, headingley and mumbai when you say he never performs /facepalm

Posted by   on (February 27, 2013, 9:50 GMT)

Wouldn't it be wonderful if more international games were played at Queenstown. This ground is the REAL New Zealand. Forget Eden Park, places like Queenstown are the reason people visit NZ.

Posted by trav29 on (February 27, 2013, 9:44 GMT)

@randyoz yeah coz when he averaged 66 in australia in the last ashes that didn't count either really did it as we were so far in front we would have won those games without those runs anyway ;-)

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (February 27, 2013, 9:30 GMT)

Some good comments here, but why is KP always immune? He is one of the most frustrating players in the England teams for me. Somehow manages to keep a batting average of near 50, but in games when he ought to perform he simply doesn't. Hit or miss players like this are very ugly sometimes, especially in tests. But a team without KP is like a car without an accelerator.

Anyway, as most people already point out, it's the bowling that should be of most interest in this warm-up. You all know my stance on Broad; all eyes on him, Onions and Woakes...

Posted by RandyOZ on (February 27, 2013, 9:25 GMT)

Once again Bell performs when it doesnt count!

Posted by   on (February 27, 2013, 9:06 GMT)

Yet to be convinced by Compton certainly seems that his only option is as an opener in test cricket. V very impressed with Root think hes a real find.Broad reslly hasnt been firing for sime time now and worry that hes being left to wait and see, like Onions so would like to see him back and Woakes is another one I am awaiting to see how develops. Finally not a KP fan so would like to see us look to the future and drop him no chance though in an Double Ashes Year, still I live in hope.

Posted by nlpdave on (February 27, 2013, 9:03 GMT)

Based on achievement and potential England have one of the best batting line ups ever, the weakness, in what is still a pretty good side, remains the depth pace and variety in the bowling attack. If New Zealand have been watching recently they'll know that on a flat pitch with an older ball England consistently fail to finish sides off and they should seek to exploit this. However, the likelyhood is that the new ball in the hands of Finn and Anderson will prove too much for a side limited in experience and confidence. I don't see NZ restricting England's scoring too much so batting long might be the only way to avoid a whitewash.

Posted by JG2704 on (February 27, 2013, 8:41 GMT)

@jmcilhinney ( 5:50 GMT) - Re you first line - spot on.

I know a certain poster will disagree and it's not a Bell thing either.It's basically the fact that England are reluctant to drop underperforming players. In football-if Rooney wasn't performing for a number of games for Man U , would Ferguson keep playing him? And I'm no Man U fan. Not saying drop a player after a bad performance but after a few bad performances and we are losing matches then definitely drop the player. By the same token if a player has been dropped after a few bad performances and goes away to the county circuit and scores a load of runs/ takes a load of wickets , then bring him back as soon as we get a problem with another underperforming player. Sometimes (as with Cook a few years ago) we have the luxury of being able to win matches while a player is out of form and keep him in the side which I'm fine with but surely the team winning matches is more important than an individual performing?

Posted by SameOld on (February 27, 2013, 8:27 GMT)

Oh man, I hope NZ don't get creative and rush Neesham in. He's still too raw, but has big potential to step up in a year or two. Gillespie has been bowling well, and was very good against SA. Hope he gets the nod for the 1st Test, he deserves it and he adds a dimension that compliments what Southee, Boult & Bracewell do nicely.

I'd play: Rutherford, McCullum, Williamson, Taylor, Brownlie, Watling, Bruce Martin, Bracewell, Southee, Gillespie, Boult.

But NZ will probably go for Fulton over Rutherford, or both, with no Gillespie. NZ need to realise an extra batsman will not help us win, or even compete. It hasn't yet, and it isn't going to. A bowler like Gillespie can mess with the best on his day, and if it's not his day, what's lost? It's not as if a win is very likely. Baz needs to stay at the top, at least until Guppy returns. Not ideal, but "ideal" is not a word NZ batting is familiar with.

I also hope England play Broad. I think NZ would rather face him than Onions.

Posted by   on (February 27, 2013, 8:12 GMT)

my main concern is Broad. after a couple of decent t20 games, his pace dropped again for the odi series and he hardly moved a ball off the straight.

Posted by   on (February 27, 2013, 7:41 GMT)

I was at the game today and to be honest the NZ bowling really lacked anything and everything.Far too few bouncers were bowled and the England batsman pretty much knew where the ball would be all day long. Easy runs really, an average England batting performance with too many fails after good starts. Beautiful ground! Hopefully declare overnight

Posted by Wharfeseamer on (February 27, 2013, 6:28 GMT)

Unless I have missed some news that would explain why Finn/Anderson are not playing, this looks like a straight 'bowl off' between Broad and Onions, with Finn/Anderson left out to rest and ensure the other two get fair and equal crack at it in this game. Can't see England playing 5 bowlers so no chance for Woakes unless he really stands out in this game. No surprise that, in the main, those batsmen joining after the one dayers have failed in this game whilst, Prior excepted, the runs have come from those who have been in NZ a while. This 1 warm up game strategy may be flawed

Posted by landl47 on (February 27, 2013, 6:24 GMT)

Not the best day for England- of the three batsmen who were not in the ODI side, only Prior made enough to rank as worthwhile practice. Cook Bell and Root, who made the bulk of the runs, have been there for several weeks and made lots of runs in the ODIs.

However, runs were made at a good pace and I would expect England to either declare overnight or have a bash first thing and leave the bowlers most of the day to see what they can do. Third seamer seems to be the only spot up for grabs and it will be interesting to see how Broad, Onions and Woakes get on. Swann needs some overs, too, although his place is not in doubt.

Posted by   on (February 27, 2013, 6:12 GMT)

I think Broad's bowling has looked jaded for quite a long time - if I was England I'd give him a good long rest from all forms, get him back into the County game and reassess the situation come June. Onions has got to be keen, and is more than handy in swinging conditions, so give him a go!

I actually suspect that in the longer game, Woakes could probably play as a frontline bowler, and it might be worth trying that out, perhaps if the 3rd match turns out to be a dead rubber.

As for the Compton/Root situation, I'd say keep it as it is for now. I suspect that Compton might prove more useful as a no. 3 or 4 in the long run or if Trott or Pietersen get injured, but the Cook and Compton partnership has looked very promising, and Root seems capable of playing a good hand at 6.

So: Cook, Compton, Trott, Pietersen, Bell, Root, Prior, Swann, Anderson, Finn, Onions.

Posted by Rajasekar_P on (February 27, 2013, 6:11 GMT)

Drop Straut Broad to let him to concentrate on shorter format, I mean for the champions trophy. Bring in Onions he is a productive fast bowler

Posted by satishchandar on (February 27, 2013, 6:02 GMT)

It is tailor made for Bell. He is usually in good form in conditions that dont spin that much.. I expect him to be on top notch against NZ. Same with almost everyone. Cook, Compton, Trott, KP, Bell, Root, Prior.. Also the bowlers. Frankly speaking, i don't see any loophole in England test lineup.. They should make the series theirs.. No disrespect to NZ but England has a settled test team.. Everyone will feel home batting as well as in bowling..

Posted by jmcilhinney on (February 27, 2013, 5:50 GMT)

While it should be considered good to see Bell scoring fluently, there are those who will lament it because it means he builds up credit for his next lean period. I'm a fan of Ian Bell but I can't deny that there is some logic to that position. He is obviously talented but doesn't have the record that that talent would suggest. Getting runs in relatively English-like conditions against lower-ranked opponents is all well and good but it certainly doesn't guarantee success under more difficult circumstances. Hopefully he can at least maintain some form here and through the back-to-back Ashes. That said, I'm sure someone like Shane Watson would kill for Bell's record. Watson has his bowling too but who knows if he'll ever bowl regularly again. You don't have to wonder too hard what RandyUK would say if England played a top-order batsman averaging under 37. He lambastes Bell enough and his average is over 10 runs higher.

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Andrew McGlashanClose
Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
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