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England steady the ship

Tim Southee of New Zealand unsucessfully appeals for a lbw during day four of the First Test match between New Zealand and England. Photo / Getty Images.
Tim Southee of New Zealand unsucessfully appeals for a lbw during day four of the First Test match between New Zealand and England. Photo / Getty Images.

A record opening partnership against New Zealand by Alastair Cook and Nick Compton highlighted the fourth day of the opening test at University Oval and showed why England has earned the world ranking of No 2.

The openers made 231 together, eclipsing the previous mark of 223 set by Graeme Fowler and Chris Tavare at the Oval in July 1983. It was their third century stand in 10 innings.

England enter the final day 234 for one, requiring another 59 runs to make New Zealand bat again. Compton was on 102 and nightwatchman Steve Finn was still to get off the mark.

Cook scored his 24th test century, extending his hold over the title `most centuries for England' which he inherited last year in India. Boult finally dismissed him caught behind for 116, less than three overs from the end.

The second innings shaped as vital for Compton to prove his credentials as a test opener. He entered facing the ignominy of a pair and exited with his maiden test century.

In nine previous innings his best was 57.

The only moment to cause angst came from the third ball of the 16th over when Tim Southee had Compton flicking at a ball down the legside. The appeal for caught behind and subsequent review were rejected. No mark was revealed on the bat through hot spot.

England made an emphatic statement today. They demonstrated how to occupy the crease in the face of a 293-run deficit when New Zealand declared at 460-9 after 45 minutes. Heading into the final day, New Zealand's bowlers face the haunting prospect of again failing to take a full 20 wickets, just like the two tests in South Africa.

New Zealand batted decisively for 45 minutes to start the day.

Brendon McCullum continued a spirited first home test as captain by advancing from 44 to 74. His innings lasted 59 balls but gave New Zealand's position further impetus. He was eventually dismissed offering a steepler which took about four seconds for gravity to guide the ball into Jimmy Anderson's patient hands at mid-wicket.

England persisted in bowling short to McCullum. He obliged by dispatching them to the boundary. His coup de grace was a six from Stuart Broad off the ninth ball of the day which dented a bus waiting outside the ground in Logan Park.

Bruce Martin offered support, sharing an eighth-wicket partnership of 77 with his skipper. Martin made 41 in his debut innings and was the last batsman to fall.

Anderson finished the best of the England bowlers with 4-137 from 33 overs.

New Zealand's initial lead of 293 was the seventh highest set in the country's test history. New Zealand has won four and drawn two of the tests where they'd set six higher marks.

- Herald on Sunday

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