New Zealand face tough battle

Wellington, March 16:

England could scent victory over New Zealand after snapping a Brendon McCullum and Jacob Oram partnership with the penultimate ball on the fourth day of the second cricket Test here today.

Oram’s dismissal, when England took the new ball in fading light, left New Zealand struggling at 242 for six, needing a further 196 runs on the final day to save the Test.

Only one further delivery was allowed before the umpires called the players in four overs early, leaving McCullum on 43 not out with Daniel Vettori yet to score.

Set a world record fourth innings target of 438 to win, New Zealand struggled to 173 for five before Oram and McCullum began putting the innings back on track.

However, when Ryan Sidebottom broke their 69-run partnership, with Oram caught by Kevin Pietersen at second gully, he put England back on course to level the series.

The tourists resumed the day in cold blustery conditions on 277 for nine and added a further 16 runs before the innings ended with Monty Panesar caught by Ross Taylor at slip off Chris Martin for 10, leaving James Anderson 12 not out.

New Zealand reached 18 before Jamie How was the first to go, caught in close by Ian

Bell off Sidebottom for eight. Matthew Bell was dropped by Paul Collingwood on 27

but added only two more runs before Tim Ambrose completed the job off the bowling of Stewart Broad.

Five balls later Broad claimed the prized scalp of New Zealand’s senior batsman Stephen Fleming (31). Fleming received a standing ovation as he left his home ground for the last time as a Test player.

Matthew Sinclair and Taylor put on 81 for the fourth wicket, which ended with Anderson’s first delivery after tea when Sinclair pushed a wide delivery straight to Ian Bell at cover. Taylor went on to score 55, following his first innings 53, to become the first New Zealand batsman in four years to post half centuries in both innings of a Test.

His stand came to an end when he was trapped in front by Sidebottom who ended the day with 3-72, while Broad has 2-38.