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March 25, 2008
New Zealand 168 and 222 for 5 (Bell 69, Fleming 66, Panesar 3-49) need another 331 runs to beat England 253 and 467 for 7 dec (Strauss 177, Bell 110)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary
How they were out
It was always likely to be harder work for England to claim another ten wickets with conditions again perfect for batting, although the surface began to offer a hint of help for the spinners which Panesar exploited with his best bowling of the winter. He was helped in building the pressure by a sustained spell from Broad, operating for 14 overs unchanged either side of tea to continue an impressive all-round Test.
Fleming walked out to bat through a guard of honour by the England team and the players also broke away from their celebrations to applaud him off the field as he left with a gentle wave of the bat around the ground. New Zealand's collapse of 4 for 25 in 19 overs had shades of the first innings when they shelled nine for 65 and again the floodgates opened when the second-wicket partnership was broken.
Until the final session England had to show real patience. They'd batted on for 35 minutes - Andrew Strauss falling for a career-best 177 - and couldn't break through before lunch as Bell and Jamie How repelled the early new-ball bursts, which included another wayward display from James Anderson. Bell struggled to get off his pair, but was then offered a kick-start as Anderson dropped continually short in his fifth over and was crashed for four consecutive boundaries.
Panesar made his first impression in the second over after lunch when he beat How's forward push with a straight ball that would have taken middle. Further strikes proved elusive and runs came with increasing freedom as the bowlers toiled, while most of Bell's came square on the off side and his half century took 121 balls. It was an impressive show of determination from a player who could have sunk without a trace, and with the tour of England looming large he faces a nervous wait until tomorrow evening to find whether he has done enough to earn his ticket. A century would have made a more convincing case, but he fell to third ball after tea when he helped a short ball from Panesar down deep backward square-leg's throat with an horrendous pull which undid all his hard work.
Fleming certainly won't be on the plane to England and his second aggressive innings of the match confirmed what New Zealand will be missing. He opened with a flashing square drive past gully then quickly settled in placid conditions. He dealt comfortably with Panesar and was chiefly responsible for Paul Collingwood's two overs costing 20. When he ticked over to 7160 career runs he secured an average of 40, although there was to be no departing century as, in almost clichéd style, he got a toe end to a loose cut shot where Tim Ambrose held a sharp chance.
New Zealand's problem of losing wickets in clusters meant two new batsmen were at the crease and it was hard work against Panesar and the impressive Broad. Mathew Sinclair, also playing for his future, was peppered by a short-pitched attack from Broad, no mean feat on a gentle surface, and eventually lobbed a catch off his glove to Ambrose. A similar plan of attack worked against Grant Elliott, who struggled for 27 balls before lobbing a limp pull to short leg.
Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum had some uneasy moments against Panesar, keeping the closer fielders interested as England scented the possibility of running through the lower order. They hurried through the overs to reach a second new ball and it nearly worked when McCullum lashed a cut shot towards Kevin Pietersen in the gully in the last over but a tough chance was put down. Both Taylor and McCullum have been in form during the series, but England enter the final day knowing they are two wickets from a swift conclusion.
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