Cricket: Kiwis take flight on Test path

Somerset 554 & 146 New Zealand 420 & 282-4 New Zealand win by six wkts
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TO WIN after conceding 500 runs in the first innings left the Kiwis feeling pretty pleased with themselves two days before the first Cornhill Test at Edgbaston.

They have now won both their first-class matches since the World Cup, and if the opposition might be flattered to be described as first-class - British Universities and a Somerset shorn of seven first-choice players - a win is a win in any language.

The two players they wanted to succeed both did so. "Simon Doull's bowling is critical to our planning and Craig McMillan needed some runs," said Chris Doig, New Zealand's visiting chief executive.

Doull, bowling well within himself, looked menacing occasionally in the second innings, spearheading a useful performance from all their seamers.

McMillan's 121 came from an aggressive, punchy player who looked much happier than in limited overs.

Their fielding may have been lackadaisical in Friday's hot sunshine, but they improved perceptibly once colder breezes blew in from the sea.They confirmed their reputation for resilience by gaining in proficiency with each passing day.

In one sense they are ideal opponents for the new England; they are unlikely to provide too many firecrackers in the four-match series, but they will be difficult to defeat, while not inflicting too much damage upon fragile English reputations.

They began yesterday needing another 259 to win, having lost 12 overs to morning rain. Somerset would have liked a further reduction in overs to tighten the competition and when 43 had been added in 13 overs without due strain the contest appeared over.

Ian Jones, Somerset's 22-year-old fast bowling recruit from Durham, produced a couple of hostile overs, quick enough to whip back the helmet, in placing a claim for the vacancy left by Andy Caddick's recall by England.

Somerset's other Jones, Steffan from Llannelli, gave him enthusiastic support, but Somerset had been stalled until Marc Trescothick turned to all-rounder Keith Parsons.

He somehow contrived to find a little variable bounce in a stiff crosswind, possibly the first time a bowler had posed real problems in the entire match.

Roger Twose was aiming over long-on when he was bowled, Stephen Fleming, aiming to drive, snicked low to slip, and Matt Horne, standing back to drive, popped up gently to mid-off - three wickets for 10 runs in 23 balls.

That was 92 for 3 in 28 overs and Somerset glimpsed victory for the first time.

The tourists' reaction was spiky defence, from Nathan Astle and McMillan in the early afternoon, gradually picking up tempo.

When they lost McMillan, slashing at the returning Parsons, another 147 was needed off 48 overs, little more than a doddle to a well-drilled one- day side.

Astle, with Chris Cairns, both of whom hit sixes, romped home with 33 overs to spare; at one stage such was the pace that they took 50 off 27 balls, adding 148 in 23 overs.

Vodafone, who deserve better support, named Greg Kennis the man of the match for his first-innings career best of 175.