New Zealand continue impressive build-up

Published: Friday, May 9, 2008, 2:52 [IST]
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London: New Zealand continued their impressive build-up to next week's opening Test by undermining the claims of a trio of England hopefuls in their final warm-up match at the Rose Bowl on Thursday.

Facing an England Lions side including eight internationals, the tourists looked set for the toughest test of their tour so far having boosted spirits with a convincing victory over Essex last week.

But after struggling through the morning session as the Lions survived unscathed until lunch, New Zealand bounced back strongly after losing the toss and dismissed England for 280 despite a defiant 120 from Luke Wright.

It was an impressive performance just a week before the start of the npower Test series at Lord's, particularly with a line-up missing injured captain Daniel Vettori and rested seamer Kyle Mills.

Their display also damaged the hopes of leading trio Rob Key, Owais Shah and Ravi Bopara - widely regarded as the next batsmen in line should England decide to change their mis-firing top order - in front of coach Peter Moores and National Selector Geoff Miller.

Kent batsman Key, who was leading the Lions, showed great application during a 49-run stand with Hampshire's Michael Carberry which appeared to have laid the foundation for a major England total during a painstaking opening session.

Just four balls after lunch, however, Key's 123-minute knock was ended when he was given lbw for 23 to Chris Martin attempting to force through mid-wicket.

Key's innings was the most successful of the trio hoping to gain an England recall, with Middlesex batsman Shah falling in Martin's next over when he pushed forward defensively and edged behind for three.

Bopara fell just five overs later when he attempted to leave a ball outside off stump from young seamer Tim Southee but instead got an inside edge onto his stumps for seven.

The manner of their dismissals set the tone for the Lions innings with Matt Prior, another player with a point to prove after being discarded as England's wicketkeeper during the winter, driving Martin tamely to gully for 10 to earn him his third victim.

Carberry, one of the big successes during the Lions tour to India last winter, had played a determined innings, taking 65 balls before registering his first boundary and taking 44 overs to score 41.

His resistance was broken when he mis-timed an attempted drive off seamer Iain O'Brien and looped the ball to mid-off to become England's fifth wicket to fall in a 13-over spell, plunging them into trouble at 89 for five.

It took a determined partnership between Sussex all-rounder Wright and Yorkshire's Adil Rashid to prevent complete capitulation after they defied New Zealand for 25 overs during their 81-run stand.

Just as England thought they were on course to recover and register a competitive total, all-rounder Jacob Oram reminded them of his quality with the ball with three wickets in six overs.

Oram, who delivered 31 maidens in 74 overs during the two Tests he played against England in the winter, began in similar fashion by bowling five successive maidens during the morning session.

But he is also a capable wicket-taker and after tempting Rashid into driving straight to short extra cover, won an lbw shout against Graeme Swann and then had Chris Tremlett caught behind in quick succession.

Wright, who was dropped on 28 at short mid-wicket off Jeetan Patel shortly after tea, accelerated his strokeplay after that triple loss and hit Martin for a straight six down the ground as he sensed a quick conclusion to the innings.

Instead of wrapping up the innings quickly, however, Matthew Hoggard provided determined support against the second new ball with a defiant 28 to help add 78 for the ninth wicket before having his stumps re-arranged by Southee.

Wright was last man out having reached his century with a slog sweep for six over mid-wicket off Southee having dominated an under-par batting display.

Brief Score (D-1):

England Lions Ist innings 280 (Luke Wright 120; Chris Martin 3 for 58) Vs New Zealand.


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