New Zealand's hopes of winning slip

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 12:46 10/03/2013
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Neil Wagner of New Zealand celebrates the dismissal of Nick Compton of England.

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The English cricket team have all but saved the first test and are now enjoying valuable batting practice on Dunedin's University Oval wicket.

After resuming this morning at 234-1, still 59 in arrears, England have moved to 329-2 at lunch and a lead of 36.

Barring catastrophe this afternoon, the three-match series will still be level when the teams meet again in Wellington for the second test.

The lifeless University Oval wicket is still yet to play any tricks and the fact English nightwatchman Steven Finn batted the entire session minutes and reached his highest score in first class cricket, 42no, shows just how easy it is.

New Zealand's Trent Boult last night said how his side used the new ball would be crucial this morning, but while they've bowled well, the English have been far more resolute than their awful first innings.

There was one moment to cheer for the home side, when Neil Wagner trapped centurion Nick Compton out lbw.

Resuming on 102, Compton scored a further 15 before becoming Wagner's fifth victim of the match.

Compton and Finn added 34 for the second wicket before Finn was joined by Jonathan Trott (37no) and they have so far added 64 for the third wicket.

Finn's previous best score from 17 tests was 19 while in eight years of first-class cricket, the 23-year-old had never scored more than 32 until today.

Both Finn and Trott gave half chances late in the first session. Finn edged Kane Williasmon between Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum while Tim Southee found the edge of Trott's bat, but it the ball dropped short of a diving BJ Watling.

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