Angus Fraser: England struggle to avoid follow-on

England saved the follow-on on the third afternoon, passing 270 when a forceful back foot shot from Paul Collingwood rolled to the extra cover boundary for four, but they will need to be at their best over the final two days of the first Test if they are to avoid defeat to an excellent New Zealand side. Collingwood and Tim Ambrose, on debut, remained unbeaten at the end of an absorbing day of Test cricket as England crawled to 286-6, still 184 runs shy of the Black Caps imposing first innings total of 470.

The highlight of the day was the intriguing battle between England's naturally aggressive middle-order and the New Zealand spinners. Unresponsive modern pitches have made the life of a conventional finger spinner pretty miserable but it was a joy to watch Daniel Vettori and Jeetan Patel whirl away for over after over in tandem, dictating terms to batsmen who relish striking the ball to the boundary.

The pair bowled beautifully, rendering Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood virtually shotless for lengthy periods of the day. Pietersen is as powerful and free-scoring a batsman as there is in world cricket, yet he only managed to score 26 runs between lunch and tea. He hit the third ball he faced for six but it took him a further 91 balls to find the boundary again.

Pietsersen can rarely have been made to work as hard for runs in his career and he looked devastated when, on 42, a defensive push flew of his pad then bat back to the bowlers left. A right-handed person may not have caught it but Vettori, the bowler, scooped it up beautifully low and to his left.

Pietersen, as is usually the case, was the wicket England's opponents wanted most and as he made his way pack to the pavilion the Black Caps would have fancied their chances of bowling England out before the close. But Collingwood and Ambrose held firm, scoring 41 and 23 respectively. The pair will need to remain at the crease for some time on the fourth day if England are to avoid a nervy finish.

New Zealand's bowlers showed England just what could be achieved with discipline and hard work; something Michael Vaughan would have been aware of as he scratched around for runs in the morning session. The England captain received very few loose deliveries and reached his 15th Test fifty via an outside edge to the third man boundary. Thirty six runs were added in the first hour and New Zealand's control was rewarded when Vaughan misjudged a Patel delivery and edged a catch through to the wicket-keeper.

Andrew Strauss and Chris Martin, New Zealand's opening bowler, are not the best of friends - the pair had a public verbal exchange in January after the England batsman suggested that the Black Caps would be a weaker side without Shane Bond. Martin took exception to the remarks, accusing Strauss of being arrogant and mouthy, and he greeted him at the crease with a couple of bouncers, the first of which hit the batsman on the chest. It did not take long before Strauss looked to take on the short ball and his first boundary came when he pulled Martin for four.

Strauss grew in confidence as the session wore on but rarely can he have faced spin so early in an innings. In the build up to the Test the former opener said that he did not believe batting at three would be too different to opening. But it is and, initially, it was apparent as he struggled to come to terms with Vettori.

And it was Vettori who dismissed him with the third ball after the interval. Left handed batsmen constantly have to face spinners who toss the ball in to the bowlers foot-holes and Strauss was bowled driving at a ball that spun sharply between his bat and pad.

Ina Bell showed no affect from the nasty blow he received to his right hand on the first day but he too could not come to terms with the accurate bowling that was being sent his way. The ironic thing about Bell's dismissal was that he just seemed to be finding his timing when Kyle Mills nipped the second new ball back through his guard and clipped off stump.

In total 56 runs were added for the loss of two wickets in the 31 overs between lunch and tea, figures that highlight New Zealand's dominance. Collingwood would have been dismissed prior to Pietersen had Brendon McCullum held on to a difficult stumping chance of the bowling of Patel. But he survived, assisted Ambrose to score his first Test runs, much to the joy of his parents sat in the sun on a grassy bank, and much will be required from England's most combative cricketer when the teams square up tomorrow morning.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before