Saturday 8 March 2008 

Sidebottom Takes Five Wickets To Set Things Up

New Zealand 470 (Taylor 120) & 147-8 (Fleming 66, Sidebottom 5-37) v
England 348 (Collingwood 66, Vaughan 63, Ambrose 55, Patel 3-107)


The first Test between New Zealand and England in Hamilton is intriguingly poised after five wickets, including a hat-trick, for Ryan Sidebottom left New Zealand 269 runs ahead with two second innings wickets in hand with one day to play.

England rallied with the bat, Paul Collingwood and Tim Ambrose hitting half-centuries to propel their side to 348 before Sidebottom rocked the New Zealand top order, and but for a half-century from Stephen Fleming, England would likely be batting again already. New Zealand closed on 147 for eight.

Collingwood (66) and Ambrose (55) combined to add 90 for the seventh wicket with both men playing circumspectly. Collingwood hit one maximum to add to nine fours while Ambrose hit five boundaries as he became the latest England wicket-keeper to impress with the bat on debut.

Once Oram had trapped Collingwood in front and Jeetan Patel had Ambrose caught by Fleming, there was little resistance from the tail, Steve Harmison departing to the same combination first ball as his miserable game continued and Monty Panesar trapped in front by Kyle Mills for a three-ball duck. Patel finished with three for 107 as Sidebottom was left unbeaten on three.

He then got to work with the ball; he was by far and away England's most impressive bowler in the first innings, and in the second innings he surpassed that performance by taking the first three wickets as Matthew Bell (nought), Jamie How (39) and Fleming (66) all fell to the left-armer.

Sidebottom's fourth wicket was Mathew Sinclair, caught by Alastair Cook for two and his fifth was Jacob Oram, trapped in front for a golden duck to complete the hat-trick. In between, Panesar had nipped out danger man Brendon McCullum (nought) before he got rid of first innings centurion Ross Taylor for six.

Sidebottom had been on a hat-trick from the first innings, and by getting Bell third ball, meant he had taken three wickets in five balls and he completed a hat-trick that spanned two overs when Oram was out lbw.

That helped him return figures of five for 37, and it was left to Daniel Vettori and Patel to guide their side to stumps, although if New Zealand are to win, those two will play a far more crucial role with ball in hand rather than the bat.

269 is a handy lead, but not guaranteed to be a winning one, although with the pitch deteriorating enough for Panesar to take three for 33 in 12 overs, chasing any score will be tricky against the twin spin attack.

England's best hope for the win is to run through the tail quickly tomorrow morning, although they would still have to bat considerably quicker than they did in their first innings on a wearing pitch against two in form spinners. Therein danger lies, although survival may prove just as difficult.

© Cricket World 2008

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