Watling leads NZ XI to win

By Adrian Seconi

BJ Watling of a New Zealand XI bats during day four of the International Tour Match between the New Zealand XI and England. Photo / Getty Images.
BJ Watling of a New Zealand XI bats during day four of the International Tour Match between the New Zealand XI and England. Photo / Getty Images.

BJ Watling take a bow.

The diminutive Black Caps wicketkeeper-batsman helped create history at the Queenstown Events Centre today.

England had not lost a warm-up first-class game since February 2006 but were humbled in a superb finish to their tour game against the New Zealand XI.

The tourists declared on their overnight total of 256 for nine to set a target of 334.

Victory seemed to be slipping away when the home side lost three wickets in a sleepy afternoon session. But Watling and Northern Districts all-rounder Corey Anderson revived the run chase with an 82-run partnership from 18.2 overs.

Anderson was bowled for 44 looking to get after the spinner Joe Root but Watling, with some help from Neil Wagner (28 not out), scored 89 not out to help his side secure a three-wicket win with just eight balls to spare.

It was pretty much the perfect match for Watling. He scored an undefeated 66 in the first innings, took seven catches and did not concede a single bye.

England need to be commended for some very good cricket as well. Ian Bell looked in good touch, scoring 158 in the first innings and will be a hard man to get out during the test series.

Spinner Graeme Swann and seamer Stuart Broad were threatening but Graham Onions will probably be restricted to bowling in the nets after a disappointing match which saw him take one wicket for 213.

Every time he came on to bowl it was like a pressure release valve for the home side. The runs flowed.

At tea both sides were halfway towards victory. The New Zealand XI were 167-5 and needed 167 further runs and England needed to take another five wickets to win.

The pitch continued to play well all day and the home started to gather momentum in the final session of the game.

England had a chance to take Watling's wicket when he got a thick edge to gully on 47 but Swann dropped a tough diving chance.

England employed ring fields but Wagner came in and found the boundary, including a six over fine leg which was effectively the winning blow.

- Otago Daily Times

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