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March 9, 2008
Bowling spell of the day
No-one quite imagined that a New Zealand seamer would cause such chaos at any stage of this game, let alone on the final day, when all eyes had turned to the spin pairing of Daniel Vettori and Jeetan Patel. But then Kyle Mills is fairly used to being under-estimated. He hurtled in as if venting every frustration of a stop-start international career, and wrecked England's hopes with four prime wickets in the space of 33 balls. Among them was Andrew Strauss, who made the mistake of suggesting that this attack might be a bit samey without the express Shane Bond in their ranks. He might have to revise his opinion now.
Aggressive intent of the day
Vettori has performed supremely with bat, ball and in his on-field leadership, but one of his best moves came when he was parked back in the dressing-room. New Zealand were nine wickets down and with Chris Martin at the crease, the end was only a matter of time. But Vettori was having none of it. With a wave of his hand he called his last pair in, with the lead exactly 300 and with 81 overs remaining in the day. The statement it sent out was loud and clear. We've got enough, and now we're coming after you.
Catch of the day
England's out-cricket was little short of sensational in this match - if only their batting and some of their bowling could have followed suit. But New Zealand themselves are no slouches in the field, as Brendon McCullum demonstrated with an outstanding take behind the stumps to remove Strauss. The shot was little more than a limp poke outside off, but McCullum reacted in an instant, and dived high to his left to grasp the chance in his fingertips.
Ironic cheer of the day
Paul Collingwood picked up where he had left off in England's first innings, albeit with good reason after the carnage of Mills' first spell. He pushed, prodded and generally scratched around for ten minutes short of an hour, until finally he clipped a leg-stump delivery from Patel into space at midwicket. It was his 33rd delivery of the innings, eight more than he had required to get up and running first-time around. Seventeen balls later, his vigil was all over, without addition.
Bowling change of the day
Martin had been comparatively luckless until he began his second spell after lunch. Mills stole the early plaudits, and even in the first innings, when he hurtled in to clock 86mph, his two wickets were overshadowed by the ennui of England's performance. He put all that right in the space of an over, however. With his third ball he trimmed Tim Ambrose's off bail with a searing seamer, then followed up three balls later with an offcutter that clipped the edge of Ryan Sidebottom's limp bat.
Rearguard of the day
It's worth a mention, I suppose, if only to spell out how easy batting could have been with a bit of application. Ian Bell's 151-ball 54 was chanceless and occurred almost by stealth, which you'd imagine is how he'd like all his innings to pan out. Two swiped sixes reminded the crowd of his presence, in particular the second which brought up his half-century, but seasoned Bell-watchers are still waiting for the day when he produces such application when it really matters.
Shot of the day
It's a sad state of affairs when one of the classiest strokes in an England innings comes from a tailender renowned for his strokelessness. But feed Matthew Hoggard a delivery in his slot, and he will latch onto it, as Martin discovered while being handsomely driven down the ground for four. Three balls later, however, Hoggard wafted once again at a ball a fraction wider, and McCullum accepted the edge with glee.
Stat of the day
Only two innings have elapsed since England's last most abject performance in Test cricket. In December, beneath the walls of the Galle Fort in Sri Lanka, they were bundled out for 81 in 30.5 overs, so at least they could claim a minuscule improvement on both fronts. But this defeat is still only their eighth in 89 Tests against New Zealand, dating back to the days of Frank Woolley and Henry Foley in 1929-30. So much for that long-awaited fresh start.
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