Angus Fraser: England on course for victory

New Zealand v England, 2nd Test, Wellington, Day 3

Ryan Sidebottom put England on course to win the second Test and level the three match series when he dismissed Jacob Oram with the penultimate ball of the fourth day.

Oram and Brendon McCullum were compiling a threatening partnership as New Zealand attempted to chase down a world record fourth innings score of 438 when Oram drove loosely at Sidebottom and edged a catch to Kevin Pietersen fielding in the position of fifth slip.

New Zealand would have felt slightly aggrieved by the wicket. The light was pretty iffy and England had just taken the second new ball. Indeed, at the end of Sidebottom's over the umpires offered New Zealand the light, which they accepted, and the players left the Basin Reserve with the hosts on 242-6, still 198 runs short of their target.

England would probably have wrapped the game up on the fourth day had their fielding been as good as it was in Hamilton during the first Test. There they took every chance that came their way. Last night, however, they missed seven wicket-taking opportunities. In all five catches of varying difficulty were grassed, and a stumping and run out were missed. The errors are unlikely to prove costly here but on another occasion they would be the difference between winning and losing.

Sidebottom claimed the most wickets but Stuart Broad, in just his second Test, was the pick of the bowlers. Broad, brought in at the expense of Matthew Hoggard and Stephen Harmison, bowled with hostility, intelligence and skill. Fitness providing he could be in the England side for quite some time to come.

So could James Anderson, and fears that the left ankle injury he sustained on Saturday evening would prevent him from contributing vanished when he walked out to bat at the start of play to scamper singles and twos as England increased their lead by a further 16 runs to 437. Anderson took the second over as New Zealand set about creating history - the highest successful run chase in Test cricket is 418 - but the chances of this happening received an immediate setback when Ryan Sidebottom had Jamie How caught at short leg for eight.

Stuart Broad replaced Sidebottom and produced the best spell of his fledgling Test career either side of the lunch interval. Broad bowled an immaculate line to Matthew Bell and Stephen Fleming in 12 consecutive overs, troubling both. The 21 year-old deserved his second Test wicket well before it came. In one over Bell edged him twice short of slip, and then watched Paul Collingwood grass a straightforward catch at second slip.

But Broad got his man a couple of overs later when Bell pushed at a leg-cutter and edged a low catch to Tim Ambrose behind the stumps. Matthew Sinclair, in his desire to get off the mark, then nearly ran Stephen Fleming out. Fleming, batting for the final time at his home ground, would have been a yard out had Michael Vaughan's underarm throw hit the stumps.

Fleming was not happy with Sinclair's actions. Normally batsmen meet to have a mid-wicket chat after a mix up like that but both players remained at the end they were at. The event seemed to unsettle Fleming who padded up to a nip-backer from Broad that clipped the top of his off stump.

Another large crowd rose to their feet to show their appreciation for one of New Zealand's finest sportsmen. A disappointed Fleming shyly made his way off, almost embarrassed by the attention, before finally raising his bat and acknowledging the applause of the crowd.

With New Zealand still 368 runs short of victory Sinclair and Ross Taylor decided to be positive and took the game to England. Broad finished his spell with the excellent figures of 2-25 and Taylor slapped Sidebottom, his replacement, for two boundaries through mid on.

England's fielding throughout the day was poor and catches were dropped in consecutive overs. Alastair Cook grassed a hard chance off Sidebottom diving to his left at a fine gully when the batsman was on 27. Kevin Pietersen then shelled a sitter at mid-off off the bowling of Monty Panesar. Taylor, on 26, came down the pitch to England's left arm spinner hoping to repeat a feat he performed whilst playing for Wellington, when he hit a slow bowler for an enormous six over the RA Vance Stand here, but he sliced the heave in Pietersen's direction.

Pietersen gathered himself under the ball and attempted to catch it Australian style, with his fingers pointing to the sky, but he fluffed it and the ball hit turf. Tea soon followed with the hosts on 145-3.

Sinclair's good fortune did not continue. In the second over after the break the right hander wafted weakly at a short of a length ball from Anderson and chipped a simple catch to Ian Bell at extra cover.

Vaughan immediately removed Anderson from the attack, replacing him with Sidebottom who has troubled Oram throughout the entire tour. But it was Taylor who Sidebottom dismissed, trapping the right hander in front with an inswinger.

McCullum batted with usual vigour, finishing unbeaten on 43 and he and his captain, Daniel Vettori, will need to score heavily tonight if New Zealand are to get anywhere near their target.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue