Thursday 13 March 2008 

Ambrose And Collingwood Rescue England

England 291-5 (Ambrose 97no, Collingwood 48no, Oram 2-25) v
New Zealand in Wellington

New Zealand lead the three-match series 1-0
Report by Jim White

Tim Ambrose raced to an unbeaten 97 overnight on day one of the second Test between England and New Zealand to spare his side's blushes after they had been reduced to 136 for five in Wellington, finding an able ally in Paul Collingwood, who was unbeaten on 48.

England closed on a more healthy-looking 291 for five after the pair put on 155 runs for the sixth wicket after New Zealand won the toss and chose to field first.

"It's a great partnership and has put us in a strong position and we needed it because we were under pressure," England coach Peter Moores said.

"We have work to do, but it has certainly redressed the balance on a wicket that has done a bit all day."

Ambrose faced 137 balls, hitting 15 fours and two sixes and was the only batsman to dominate the New Zealand attack, who again held the edge over England's batting.

England did make a good start, Michael Vaughan (32) and Alastair Cook (44) putting on 79 for the first wicket before Jacob Oram removed both in consecutive overs. Both openers were watchful with another low run-rate but did give England a reasonable platform to build on.

Vaughan was starting to look good but was bowled neck and crop by Oram with a leg-cutter that hit the very top of off stump. Cook was also induced into a fine edge playing away from his body to be comfortably caught behind.

Jacob Oram was showing that top pace is not required to get wickets. Excellent and consistent line and length regularly beat the bat and eventually a prod by Strauss (eight) had him caught easily at square cover.

Ian Bell had a rough time early on, including a spectacular dropped catch by Brendon McCullum diving to his right and deflecting the ball into Stephen Fleming. However, after two crisp off-drives he was just beginning to settle but Chris Martin found the edge and this time he was well taken by McCullum again diving as all three slips were very wide.

Kevin Pietersen was welcomed with more short stuff that unsettled him in the previous match. Today he was determined to make up for previous shortcomings and some powerful pull shots made for an encouraging start before Gillespie nipped one back through the gate to nick the top of off stump after he had made 31.

That left England on 136 for five and Collingwood and Ambrose with much work to do. After being 79 without loss at lunch, the middle session saw New Zealand take five wickets for 77 runs.

Collingwood and Ambrose were welcomed by some more short pitched bowling. One surprised him as it kept climbing and sailed over McCullum for a two bounce four after being hit high on the arm first ball. Ambrose too ducked into one, wore it on top of the helmet and nodded it over for four.

Another wicket here might have ended England�s tour but a positive approach by the new England 'keeper saw some superb driving and cutting and now the batsmen began to find the gaps. Regular boundaries brought up the hundred partnership after some early fortunes and he registered his second half-century in as many games.

Collingwood was starting to time the ball well and put away anything over-pitched by Gillespie. The tide was turning for the second time especially as the second new ball was taken but a lack of previously seen movement or swing saw a number of boundaries coming. Collingwood and Ambrose continued on and reached their 150 partnership with a hooked six by Ambrose off Oram. The last over of the day was full of drama as Oram beat Ambrose four times whilst as he looked to complete his maiden Test century before the end of the day. He survived and ended the day on a superb 97 not out.

Oram was the pick of the bowlers, his double strike early on earning him figures of two for 25 while there was a wicket each for Kyle Mills and Chris Martin as well as Gillespie.

Oram, however, was disappointed with the way his side had bowled in the latter part of the day.

"That middle session we were right on course but they got away in that final session. Ambrose especially played very well," he said.

"In the last session we gave them too many four-balls to hit and released the pressure, and a bit of confidence started flowing for them."

New Zealand lead the three-match series 1-0 after a 189-run in Hamilton.

� Cricket World 2008

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