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March 23, 2008
Trendsetter of the day
Tim Southee's first delivery of the day, to England's overnight stalwart, Stuart Broad. Broad's 42 had helped rescue England from their mid-innings nadir of 147 for 6, but in a portent of collapses to come, he was unable to push on when play resumed. Southee found the perfect line and length, and a hint of away movement, and Brendon McCullum did the rest. Twenty-four balls later, England's innings was all over, and the teenaged Southee led his side from the field with figures of 5 for 55, the best by a New Zealand debutant for more than 50 years. As he did so, he was thrown the match ball for safekeeping, which he rammed deep into his pockets. As well he might after that sort of effort.
Misjudgement of the day
There is a bet doing the rounds among the Kiwi journalists that Matthew Bell will not pass 30 at any stage in the series. Today he batted as if he was in for a cut of the winnings, with the most ludicrously awful misjudgement since the England media manager lost his middle stump to Matthew Hoggard on the eve of the Test. The ball did swing appreciably, but quite why Bell thought it wise to shoulder arms to a straight one is anyone's guess. In the event, he was cracked on the kneeroll plumb in front of middle, and sent on his way for a second-ball duck.
Flighty fifty of the day
Stephen Fleming's fifty-to-hundred conversion rate has been a source of wonder, frustration and bemusement all throughout his 14-year Test career. He's somehow managed to pass 7000 Test runs (and rack up three big double-centuries) without taking his centuries tally into double figures. Today's innings, however, showed just how this could be possible. For the best part of a session, Fleming was invincible. He cut and drove the new ball with disdain, and threatened single-handedly to carry New Zealand to an impregnable total. But then, just as thoughts began to drift to a fairytale finish, Fleming wrenched the situation back to reality. A half-cocked waft outside off stump, and off he ambled for a microcosmic 59.
Bowling spell of the day
Amid the mayhem, one man stood tall like a beacon of rectitude. Ryan Sidebottom has been the stand-out seamer on either side in this series. Defiant in defeat in Hamilton, quietly competent while the young guns starred in Wellington, and now the indisputable leader of the line in Napier. He bowled without a break all the way from lunch to the close of the innings, taking 6 for 37 in 14.4 overs, and 7 for 47 all told. They were the best figures by an England bowler since a certain Steve Harmison took 7 for 12 in Jamaica four years ago, and they carried his series tally to a remarkable 23 wickets at 14.21, more than double the next most prolific bowler, Chris Martin (10).
Catch of the day
It was an unremarkable lob to mid-off from an unremarkable tailender, Jeetan Patel, but the man beneath the catch was relieved nonetheless. Monty Panesar has had nothing less than a shocker in the field this series, and the roar that greeted his achievement was not merely English excitement at another wicket falling. Even in his moment of triumph, however, Monty managed to mess it up a touch. As his long fingers closed around the ball, he somehow managed to cut the tip of his left index finger - which could prove troublesome when his turn comes to bowl. Off he sprinted to the dressing-room to see the medics, almost before the batsman had managed to leave the crease.
Swipe of the day
England's positive intent was their downfall in the first innings, but Michael Vaughan wasn't about to let any such bad vibes cloud his judgment. This pitch was a belter when he assessed it on the first morning, and despite a five-session scoreline of 421 for 20, a belter it remained. So when Chris Martin banged in a good-length delivery just outside off stump, Vaughan had a monstrous mow at it, and almost swung himself off his feet as he aimed towards the midwicket floodlights. Unfortunately for him, the ball zipped a little quicker off the track than he'd expected, and brushed the shoulder of the bat to complete an underwhelming Test for England's captain.
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