Strauss anchors England run-chase

Published: Monday, May 26, 2008, 18:49 [IST]
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Andrew Strauss's second fifty of the match took England closer to a come-from-behind win against New Zealand here Monday in the second Test at Old Trafford.

England, at lunch on the fourth day, were 171 for two needing a further 123 runs to reach their victory target of 294.

And, having been outplayed for much of this match, there was now a chance England could go 1-0 up in this three-Test series with a day to spare.

Strauss, whose 60 was the lone top-order highlight in a meagre first innings 202, was 73 not out with Kevin Pietersen unbeaten on five.

It looked as if England might get through the session without losing a wicket until captain Michael Vaughan was caught behind for 48 after a stand of 90 with Strauss.

England resumed Monday on 76 for one, left-hander Strauss 27 not out and Vaughan unbeaten on 12.

No side had ever made more to win an Old Trafford Test than the 231 for three England posted against the West Indies four years ago.

The pitch was taking turn - New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori had taken five wickets in the first innings and rival left-arm spinner Monty Panesar six in New Zealand's second innings 114.

But Strauss and Vaughan, unlike England's batsmen in the first innings, were running hard to take singles and turn ones into twos as runs, which had seemed so difficult to come by, began to arrive briskly.

Vettori showed he remained a threat by twice beating Vaughan, who had driven him four, on a pitch where the bounce was increasingly variable.

However, wicket-keeper Brendon McCullum didn't help New Zealand's cause when his wild shy at the stumps went for four overthrows.

There was a sense of momentum shifting, with Strauss completing a 105-ball fifty when he steered Iain O'Brien to third man for his fourth four.

All-rounder Jacob Oram, whose eight first innings overs cost five runs, was brought into the attack with England 119 for one.

He hadn't bowled at all Sunday after landing awkwardly on his shoulder during a warm-up fielding session and injuring his neck.

The medium-pacer soon settled into a good line and length, twice beating Vaughan outside off-stump in his first over Monday.

However, the introduction of pace bowler Chris Martin gave New Zealand the wicket they needed desperately when Vaughan, driving loosely, edged to McCullum to leave England 150 for two.

Panesar's haul Sunday of six for 37 was his best innings return in Test cricket and included his 100th Test wicket.

It kept England in a match where they'd conceded an initial lead of 179 after, for the 11th straight Test, they'd failed to reach the first innings benchmark total of 400.

Vettori's five for 66 was the second innings in a row he'd taken five wickets after his man-of-the-match winning effort in the drawn first Test at Lord's.

Ross Taylor had set-up New Zealand's strong early position with a career-best 154 not out.

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