England crumble in deciding cricket Test

Published: Saturday, March 22, 2008, 9:52 [IST]
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Recalled spinner Jeetan Patel maintained New Zealand's control on the first day of the deciding cricket Test against England with two crucial wickets in the middle session here Saturday.

England went to tea at 150 for six after winning the toss and opting to bat first on a wicket showing all the hallmarks of a batting gem.

It was only a face-saving innings from marquee batsman Kevin Pietersen, who went to the break unbeaten on 90, that saved England from further blushes.

After losing four wickets in the first session when New Zealand's Test debutants Tim Southee and Grant Elliott ripped out the top order, Pietersen and Paul Collingwood tried to turn the innings around before Patel struck twice.

An 89-run partnership for the fifth wicket ended when Collingwood cut Patel straight to Elliott at backward point and was gone for 30.

Second Test centurion Tim Ambrose reached 11 before he nicked Patel to Ross Taylor at second slip.

With the series tied at 1-1, England captain Michael Vaughan won the toss and had no hesitation in batting first on a wicket which showed every sign of being batsman friendly.

But his plans to build a substantial first-innings total were rattled in the fourth over of the morning, when Southee had him trapped plumb in front for two.

In his next over, the 19-year-old Southee lured the scoreless Andrew Strauss into attacking a wide ball and Jamie How took a comfortable catch in the gully.

Four balls later Chris Martin bowled Alastair Cook for two and England found themselves three down for only four runs midway through the seventh over.

Elliott claimed his first Test wicket when he induced Ian Bell to poke at a long-hop to take an easy return catch and England were four for 36.

England have kept the same side who won the second Test in Wellington by 126 runs, while New Zealand have made three changes with Southee and Elliott replacing the injured Kyle Mills and Jacob Oram and with Patel in for seamer Mark Gillespie.

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