Sunday 16 March 2008 

England Make Good Progress In Search Of Victory

England were well placed to seal victory in the second Test against New Zealand after the hosts were reduced to 242 for six when bad light ended play four overs early on the fourth day on Sunday.

New Zealand's faint hopes of winning the match rest with Brendon McCullum (43), and captain Daniel Vettori (0) who were not out at the close, with their side needing a further 196 runs to win the test and series.

England were bowled out for 293 early in the morning session setting the hosts a mammoth victory target of 438.

New Zealand had promising partnerships between Matthew Bell (29) and Stephen Fleming (31) and Mathew Sinclair (39) and Ross Taylor (55) but they ended just as they looked to push on and produce a big innings to give their side a sniff of victory.

Jacob Oram was out in the final over before the close, the first over of the second new ball, when he slashed at a Ryan Sidebottom delivery and was caught by Kevin Pietersen for 30.

"We are delighted to be in the position we are in, needing just four wickets to win the Test match on the final day," England pace bowler Stuart Broad told reporters.

"With this new ball it's very important we strike early and it would be lovely to get a win in my second test match."

Broad took two wickets in one over to end Bell and Fleming's 51-run partnership before tea, while Sinclair played a lazy shot to James Anderson after the tea break to be caught by Ian Bell at cover to end his 81-run partnership with Taylor.

SLOPPY FIELDING

Taylor, who scored his maiden Test century in the first test, scored his second half century of the match, before he was trapped in front by Sidebottom.

"I got a start and got through the hard period early on to get to 50 a second time and not going on was disappointing," Taylor said.

The naturally aggressive Oram and McCullum then put on an 69-run partnership, which was interrupted by a short departure from the field by bad light, and ended in failing light.

England were let down with some sloppy fielding, allowing several balls to reach the boundary after misfields while Tim Ambrose, Paul Collingwood, Alastair Cook, Pietersen and Bell all dropped catches and Ambrose missed a stumping on Oram.

Oram was dropped by Bell shortly after the missed stumping. New Zealand were also gifted four runs after substitute fielder Graeme Swann's lobbed return, when the batsmen were not attempting a run, sailed over Ambrose's head and to the boundary.

Swann was temporarily on the field for England captain Michael Vaughan, who was receiving treatment on a strained left hamstring.

The highest successful run chase at the Basin Reserve was 277-3 achieved by Pakistan in December 2003 while the highest fourth-innings total was 286 by New Zealand against Sri Lanka in December 2006.

New Zealand won the first test in Hamilton by 189 runs. the final match begins in Napier on March 22.

© Reuters 2008