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March 15, 2013
New Zealand 66 for 3 (Broad 2-18) trail England 465 (Trott 121, Compton 100, Prior 82, Pietersen 73, Martin 4-130) by 399 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
An intriguing second day at Basin Reserve, which billowed one way then another in the buffeting Wellington wind, finally settled in England's favour as they took three top-order New Zealand wickets to take control of the second Test.
New Zealand's bowlers, under the cosh when the day began at 267 for 2, had made light of their onerous workload of the past week, sustained by some resilient left-arm spin from Bruce Martin, whose slower pace produced figures of 4 for 130 and a degree of turn not matched by Monty Panesar later in the day, and some determinedly enterprising captaincy in the face of adversity by Brendon McCullum.
But it all came to naught as Matt Prior advanced his reputation as one of the most dangerous wicketkeeper-batsmen of the modern era with a counter-attacking 82 from 99 balls. However much Tim Southee, the senior member of New Zealand's attack, had insisted after the first Test in Dunedin that "bodies were recharged," under Prior's assault they drained faster than an old Galaxy Ace.
England then inflicted further wounds with the ball. Peter Fulton succumbed to some aggressive new-ball bowling, clumping footwork causing him to edge James Anderson to slip, then just as New Zealand seemed to have weathered the storm, Stuart Broad picked up two wickets in successive balls. If Hamish Rutherford left rueing a poor shot, Broad cleaned up Ross Taylor first ball in impressive fashion.
An improving weather forecast, which now suggests the rain that a drought-stricken city is longing for may be delayed until Monday, will invite England optimism that there is still time to force victory.
This was all hard on New Zealand, whose four-strong attack had struck back gamely on the second morning. Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell and Joe Root all succumbed as England, superior overnight at 267 for 2, leant heavily on Kevin Pietersen and later Prior to complete their innings at tea content with their lot.
New Zealand had bowled 170 overs in the second innings in Dunedin, in a valiant but failed attempt to force victory, and had only two wickets to show for another 90 overs on the first day in Wellington. The first day had belonged to Nick Compton and Trott, but Compton had departed late on the opening day and Trott followed to his first ball of the morning, and the seventh of the day, when he feathered a catch to the wicketkeeper.
Southee began with an impressive spell as England mustered only 17 in the first 10 overs. He had little luck as Bell's edge fell short of the slips and Pietersen top-edged a hook through the despairing fingers of the wicketkeeper, BJ Watling. He spent a short time off the field because he was feeling sick and when he finished wicketless he must have been feeling sicker still.
Pietersen responded to the arrival of the left-arm spinner Martin by driving his first ball for six, but any ambitions that Martin would provide England with an outlet were also stymied. Only with lunch approaching did Pietersen seem to get Martin's measure.
Bell had an attack of the Ahmedabads. He had fallen first ball to the left-arm spinner, Pragyan Ojha in Ahmedabad, dancing down the pitch to try to loft him over the top in what smacked off a crazily preconceived plan. It was far from the first ball this time - he had batted for more than an hour - but the outcome was just the same as he failed to deposit Martin down the ground and Fulton ran back from mid-off to hold a neat, swirling catch.
Martin, tossing the ball high, found appreciable turn, and he also unpicked Root, who tried to carve him through cover off the front foot and edged a turning delivery to slip. It was an ugly, misconceived shot and Root stomped off with a farmer's gait. His start to international cricket has been something of a fairy story and disappointments such as this are inevitable.
Pietersen has been variously ailing, the knee trouble which hampered him in Dunedin now joined by a dicky back which he stretched gingerly during his innings. He seems in the sort of state where he should not grip an autograph hunter's pen too tightly. But there was danger in his vulnerable body and he reached 73 before he was goaded into trying to hit Martin over the infield and, even with a strong wind behind him, picked out Fulton halfway back to the boundary at mid-off.
Prior fell shortly before tea, denied a seventh Test century that would have taken him only one behind England's most productive century-maker among England wicketkeepers, Les Ames, by Neil Wagner's springing catch to intercept a reverse sweep, denied it, too, by the recognition that England had no plans to bat beyond the interval.
Predictably, Prior peppered the boundary square on the off side for his fifty, but his range expanded after that. Barely a ball had disappeared down the ground throughout the series so when Prior despatched Wagner for straight sixes in successive overs it could not have summed up more resoundingly how he had changed the mood. On 46, he successfully reviewed umpire Asad Rauf's lbw verdict as he swept at Martin, replays revealing a thin under-edge.
Alongside Prior, the Watford Wall offered shelter. Steven Finn's nightwatchman heroics to save the Test in Dunedin had brought his batting new respect and he contributed 24 to a stand of 83 in 20 overs, unveiling a sturdy slog-sweep against Martin, before he drove Wagner into the off side.
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