England cricketers celebrate emphatic win over New Zealand

Published: Monday, March 17, 2008, 18:06 [IST]
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England levelled the cricket series against New Zealand when they won the second Test by an emphatic 126 runs on the final morning at the Basin Reserve here Monday.

It was their first victory in nine months and first away Test win since beating India two years ago.

Key to the victory were a first innings century by man-of-the-match Tim Ambrose, playing in only his second Test, and a five-wicket bag for Ryan Sidebottom who destroyed New Zealand's hopes of a dramatic fightback.

The defiant 102 by wicketkeeper Ambrose, the only century in the match, allowed England to open a 144-run lead on the first innings and then set New Zealand a 438-run target after their second innings.

England captain Michael Vaughan described Ambrose's innings and his 164-run partnership with Paul Collingwood as the difference between the two sides.,

"It was the defining partnership in the whole match on a wicket where I don't think any batsman felt completely in but it was a good cricket wicket."

But Vaughan was not completely satisfied with the performance, particularly the several fielding errors which included at least nine dropped catches.

"We bowled exceptionally well, we batted well at times, but we didn't catch as well this week so we're not getting it all together in one game."

There was still a faint glimmer of hope for New Zealand when they started the final day at six for 242, needing a further 196 runs to reach what would have been a world record-winning score in the fourth innings.

But when they lost their last recognised batsman Daniel Vettori in the second over of the morning the writing was on the wall.

Brendon McCullum valiantly tried to hold the innings together, scoring 42 of the 69 runs New Zealand mustered in the tail end partnerships before he was the last batsman to fall for 85.

Vettori faced just six balls before edging Sidebottom and was caught by Alastair Cook at third slip without scoring.

Kyle Mills scored 13 before he was trapped in front by a swinging Sidebottom delivery to give the England strike bowler his fifth wicket.

Mark Gillespie added nine before he was caught by Ambrose off James Anderson, and with only Chris Martin left for company McCullum struck out against Monty Panesar and was caught by Sidebottom on the boundary.

It was McCullum's eighth Test half-century and his innings included nine fours and three sixes.

It was a desperately needed win for England and ensured interest in the third and final Test which starts in Napier on Saturday.

They lost the first Test in Hamilton by 189 runs but were never behind in the second Test after being sent into bat first.

Ambrose's century, supported by 65 from Collingwood, provided the backbone of their 342 first innings.

"If we reflect back on the Test match it was pretty even all the way through apart from Ambroses's 100," New Zealand skipper Vettori said.

"He took the game away from us in that third session due to us bowling poorly and bowling to his strengths."

New Zealand struggled in their first innings with a 53 by Ross Taylor and an unbeaten 50 from Vettori providing more than half their 198 runs while recalled England fast bowler Anderson took five for 73.

England built on their first innings advantage, reaching 293 on the fourth morning to set New Zealand a record run chase.

But again the home side struggled at the top of the order apart from 55 by Ross Taylor who became the first New Zealand batsman in four years to post half centuries in both innings of a Test.

McCullum played his part late in the innings but the support he required was not there.

Sidebottom, who took his first 10-wicket haul, including a hat-trick, in the first Test, finished New Zealand's second Test here with figures of five for 105, his fourth five-wicket bag in 12 Tests.

Anderson took two for 57 and Stuart Broad finished with two for 62.

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