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Monday, May 19, 2008

Draw likely despite uninterrupted day's play

New Zealand 277 and 0/40 trail England 319 (M Vaughan 106, A Strauss 63, A Cook 61, D Vettori 5/69) by 2 runs with 10 wickets in hand: Second Test Day 4 at Lord's.

The sun shone in English style for most of the day and the temperature, according to the TV, reached 17 deg C at one point, yet many of the spectators were well rugged up for what turned out to be a good day of Test cricket. Fortunes ebbed and flowed over the extended day by the end of which scores were almost level and a satisfactory result for New Zealand, ie a draw, looked the likeliest outcome.

In the first session Andrew Strauss and Alistair Cook continued to bat well against some steady and occasionally probing bowling from New Zealand. Chris Martin was the best, and deserved more than the wickets of Cook and Ian Bell. Jacob Oram and Kyle Mills provided consistent support and Tim Southee, who should become a good Test bowler if he is able to add a yard or two of pace, improved as the innings progressed.

Once Martin had broken the 121 run opening partnership the England batting wobbled as only Michael Vaughan held firm. Daniel Vettori drew upon his ability and experience to dismiss Kevin Pietersen for 3, lbw to a ball which barely deviated, Paul Collingwood, well caught at slip by Ross Taylor for 6, and keeper Tim Ambrose lbw first ball. Stuart Broad averted the hat trick but his bat was very close to the ball as it passed through to the keeper. Fortunately for England he regrouped and with Vaughan took the score from a disappointingly (after what had preceded it) shaky 6/208 to 269 before he was bowled by Oram.

Vaughan proceeded to an assured 106/214 b (11x4), his 18th test century and his 6th at Lord's (!) before being brilliantly caught by a leaping James Marshall at deep mid wicket from a flat batted pull (slog sweep?) off Vettori who finished with an impressive 5/69 from 22.3 overs.

Jamie How and Aaron Redmond saw out the day without loss. Redmond avoided a pair but was extremely fortunate not to be given out lbw to Monty Panesar on at least two occasions.

New Zealand, as Vettori conceded in his post-play interview on Sky Sport, will try to bat out the final day for a draw. If England manage to run through them cheaply, which is not beyond the bounds of probability, they may lose, but a victory for hem will require an unlikely combination of good and bad luck.

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