Black Caps lay waste to England on first day

ON FIRE: Neil Wagner of New Zealand celebrates the wicket of Ian Bell of England.
ON FIRE: Neil Wagner of New Zealand celebrates the wicket of Ian Bell of England.

So who saw that coming?

Certainly not most of the patrons at a sun-drenched University Oval, as New Zealand took a stranglehold in the first cricket test against England in one of their best days of test cricket in recent memory.

After a washed out first day, the hosts, unbeaten here in four tests, cruised to stumps on 131-0 in reply to England's woeful first innings of 167.

New Zealand lefties Neil Wagner and Bruce Martin, the latter on debut, each snared four-wicket hauls.

Opener Hamish Rutherford (77 not out) breezed to a debut half-century while veteran Peter Fulton, playing his first test since December 2009, was poised on 46. Remarkably, it was the first century stand by a New Zealand opening pair in 23 test innings, stretching back to the Napier test against Zimbabwe last January.

The new pair mixed it up with England's crack pace attack who found little in the pitch to their liking.

Home town boy Rutherford showed solid defence and thrashed anything loose through the off side, and clouted spinner Monty Panesar into the sightscreen. He raced to 50 off 65 balls and a rousing ovation, then survived a rare blemish on 52 when Stuart Broad shelled a low caught and bowled chance.

Fulton took a body blow or two but largely looked comfortable as he lowered anchor, an excellent start to a budding opening partnership in New Zealand's most troublesome batting area.

The script wasn't meant to play out like this. England, world No 2 and with a 2-1 series win in India under their belts, were heavy favourites. New Zealand lost seven of their past eight tests on the road, but crucially were home at last.

Dunedin should be earmarked for every opening home test of the summer. The hosts  enjoy it here and know the conditions, the visitors usually resemble waxworks in the southern chill.

England's batsmen were coming in cold, literally. Having shivered through the washed out first day when the mercury barely topped 10degC, the first hour was always going to be tricky to bat on a pitch covered for the past 24 hours.

But it was more the lax, almost arrogant attitude of the touring batsmen rather than unplayable bowling that did the trick.

They looked in need of a gallop, after a solitary warmup game in Queenstown, and weren't prepared to graft on a sluggish surface that required patience. Wellington and Auckland will be quicker; this pitch always appealed as New Zealand's best chance of victory.

Opener Nick Compton hadn't played since December while Kevin Pietersen had a month off after the India ODIs in January. Both missed out twice in Queenstown, and neither troubled the scorers here.

Compton was too late on a defensive stroke to Tim Southee and chopped on, off the face of the bat.

Pietersen looked as if he was batting in the dark, first ball, when a Wagner inswinger  trapped him dead in front.

Skipper Alastair Cook was the prized scalp. He scores test runs in his sleep and looked in ominous touch in the ODIs. But even he was restless; dropped by Martin at mid-wicket then one over later snared by Rutherford when he played a loose cut at Wagner.

Wagner (4-42) was the quickest of the pace trio, regularly hitting the early 140kmh bracket on the speed radar. He didn't overdo the short stuff as he'd done previously; snaring Pietersen with a beauty then enticing Ian Bell to hit aerially to cover.

Pitching the ball up and waiting for the batsmen to perish was the simple formula.

Jonathan Trott, who played here for Otago, showed how it was done with 45 in 171 minutes. But even he perished meekly, a loose swish at Martin offering catching practice.

Martin (4-43) got more out of the pitch than expected in his 14 overs and proved a handy selection. The 32-year-old on debut got a couple to bounce, accounting for Trott and Matt Prior.

Steven Finn and James Anderson did more with bat than ball, their 47-run stand for the eighth wicket the best partnership of the innings.


New Zealand v England: First test, day two.


A Cook c Rutherford b Wagner 10

N Compton b Southee 0

J Trott c Boult  b Martin 45

K Pietersen lbw Wagner 0

I Bell c Rutherford b Wagner 24

J Root c Brownlie b Boult 4

M Prior c Williamson b Martin 23

S Broard c Brownlie b Martin 10

S Finn c Rutherford b Wagner 20

J Anderson c Wagner b Martin 23

M Panesar not out 1

Extras (4b, 1lb, 2wd) 7

Total (all out, 55 overs) 167

Fall of wickets: 5, 18, 18, 64, 71, 108, 109, 119, 166, 167

Bowling: T Southee 15-3-45-1, T Boult 15-4-32-1 (1wd), N Wagner 11-2-42-4 (1wd), B Martin 14-4-43-4.


P Fulton not out 46

H Rutherford not out 77

Extras (8lb) 8

Total (for none, 42 overs) 131

Fall of wickets:

Bowling: J Anderson 9-1-35-0, S Finn 12-2-35-0, S Broad 10-1-23-0, M Panesar 8-1-26-0, J Trott 2-0-4-0, J Root 1-1-0-0.

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