Cricket: NZ fight back leaves test in balance

By Andrew Alderson in London

The cricketing duel between New Zealand and England extended throughout the third day but the 123-run third wicket partnership between Jonathan Trott (56) and Joe Root (71) did its best to break a series deadlock which extends back to Dunedin in March.

Apart from three run out scares, one of which saw B-J Watling leave the field with a left knee injury at 104 for two, the pair nullified the New Zealand attack after coming together at 36 for two in the 10th over. They boosted the aggression lacking in the first innings and reaped the rewards.

SCOREBOARD

England finished on 180 for six, with a lead of 205. The highest fourth innings total chased down at Lord's is 342 by the West Indies in 1984. The more relevant modern day example came when England compiled 282 to beat New Zealand in 2004. There have only been three successful chases over 205 in the ground's 126-test history. The other came when England chased down 216 again against New Zealand in 1965.

The limitations of a new lush outfield must also be taken into account with a full turf replacement being part of the contract which granted permission for Lord's to be used for the Olympic archery.

As a consequence, the ball ambles towards the rope. Still, New Zealand should be upbeat.

The New Zealand pace bowlers remained effective until about an hour after lunch. A hiatus followed until Tim Southee took a venomous three wickets for four runs off 17 balls in the final hour. He finished with three for 34 from 14 overs. Wagner channelled adrenalin at times and Boult showed further signs of mastery moving the ball away from right-handers. Bruce Martin's left-arm orthodox flight was effective on occasion until he exited with apparent cramp, although the left-arm pace bowler footmarks were slightly out of his ideal line at either end. Aiming for them meant the batsmen could capitalise on extra width.

Even a prolonged seven-minute break, when Watling was deciding whether to go off, could not revive the visitors' energy levels. Captain Brendon McCullum took over the keeping sporting lightweight pads underneath his trousers. To McCullum's credit his aggressive field setting never wavered even as England gained momentum.

Watling's knee is being assessed by medical staff overnight. If he is ruled out of the second test it creates a conundrum. Does McCullum or Tom Latham take the gloves at Headingley? Or does Derek de Boorder pack a bag and head to Dunedin airport? The jury is out on Latham's glovework at test level but wicketkeeping coach Jason Mills spent time honing both his and Watling's skills pre-test. Alternatively McCullum takes the gloves and Martin Guptill is drafted in to bolster the batting.

Earlier, England's pace bowlers set the tone using guile and swing to wrest back control as pillows of cloud insulated St John's Wood.

In the process they erased the batting honours board dreams, particularly of Kane Williamson and McCullum, at least for now. New Zealand slumped to 207 all out, 17 minutes shy of lunch. They lost six wickets for 54 runs in 19.2 overs, comfortably their worst session of the match.

The remainder of the New Zealand batting line-up could not extend the advantage Ross Taylor provided with his rousing 66. Potential extra time against the older ball was squandered. England didn't even utilise the services of Graeme Swann bowling into the footmarks. That looms as a later challenge for the visitors. Instead Anderson led the bowling figures with five for 47, notching his 13th five-wicket bag after claiming Peter Fulton as his 300th test wicket.

Williamson applied himself best. He spent four hours and 40 minutes at the wicket for 60 but caught a faint edge leg glancing Anderson. While it was a poor ball, it was just reward for the pressure England had built testing the New Zealanders outside off stump. Williamson probably saw the lapse of line as a gift to ease pressure. Adding to the pain was the blow he'd taken to the box in the fourth over of the day. Williamson grimaced while a nursing staff of B-J Watling and 12th man Doug Bracewell fought back grins waiting for their teammate's agony to pass.

The oddest moment was McCullum's decision to opt for a third umpire review after edging Broad behind. Goodness knows what he was hoping to achieve; there was a clear edge on hotspot. One can only imagine he gambled, as McCullum is wont to do, on a no-ball or the technology failing to register such a minor edge. McCullum was left to make a long walk back through presumably quizzical brows in the members' pavilion.

Watling's tour form with innings of 23 against the England Lions and not outs of 77 and 61 against Derbyshire was given little opportunity to shine. With eight wickets down he felt compelled to lash out at Steven Finn on 17. Finn finished with four wickets for 63.

- NZ Herald

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