The late dismissal of Alastair Cook and Matthew Hoggard sealed an excellent second day for New Zealand as they took total control of the first Test. Cook and Michael Vaughan survived the occasional scare as England attempted to make inroads in to the Black Caps imposing first innings total of 470, but the opener's patience broke four overs before the close of play when, on 38, he top-edged a pull at Chris Martin and was caught at deep square leg.
Hoggard, the nightwatchman, fell in Martin's next over when he edged a lifter to Stephen Fleming at first slip, leaving Andrew Strauss, in his new position at number three, and Vaughan to see out the final 15 balls. The pair walked off with their side precariously placed on 87-2, still requiring a further 184 runs to avoid the follow-on.
Vaughan, who finished unbeaten on 44, could easily have been dismissed too when Daniel Vettori made a strong and legitimate lbw appeal against him. There were two noises, sound that convinced umpire Darrell Harper to give the England captain the benefit of the doubt, but television replays showed that the ball had hit Vaughan's pad first.
The flat, lifeless nature of the pitch means that there is no reason why England's batsmen should not still post a significant total. If a player gets in there are still plenty of runs in the pitch and if England were to bat well it would be the Black Caps who then faced a nervy conclusion to the game. But that scenario is currently a long way off, and several millions of gallons of water will have flowed down the Waikato River and under Hamilton's Union Bridge before England get close to parity.
The loss of two late wickets places England's remaining batsmen under enormous pressure. Big totals, of which 470 is one, create a pressure of their own, inhibiting batsmen from playing their natural game and Vaughan, Strauss, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell, who will bat at five, have to make their innings count.
New Zealand deserve to be in charge because it is they who have played the much better cricket. The late wicket of Brendon McCullum on the first evening gave England the edge on day one, but it was the Black Caps who grabbed the initiative on the second morning. England would have been hoping to bowl the hosts out for under 330 yet Vettori and Ross Taylor, who scored a wonderful maiden Test hundred, took their side from 282-6 to past that score within an hour of play.
England's bowling was poor with Matthew Hoggard and the normally reliable Ryan Sidebottom leaking five runs an over. Credit should also be given to the two not out batsmen who capitalised on the wayward bowling. Taylor was outstanding driving, cutting and carving the ball through the off side when he was given any width. A couple of big drives found the edge and the ball went flying through the slips but by then he had forced Vaughan to move his fielders elsewhere.
Taylor brought his hundred up by pulling Stephen Harmison for four. Vettori hugged his partner after he had acknowledged the applause of the crowd. The New Zealand captain knew just how important the innings and his partnership with Taylor was.
Taylor likes to get after the bowling but he showed great restraint during his innings until, that is, Pietersen was belatedly brought in to the attack. The sight was too much for Taylor to resist and he top-edged a huge heave at Pietersen's second ball straight up in the air. The bowler took the catch, his third Test wicket.
Vettori played superbly too, collecting runs in his own unique way. The left hander may not be the most coordinated and aesthetic batsman around but he times the ball magnificently, particularly through the off side, and he too benefited from England's inaccurate bowling. Vettori looked set for a third Test hundred when, on 88, he guided an innocuous delivery from Collingwood straight to Strauss at fine gully.
Kyle Mills blasted a couple of boundaries with the tail before Jeetan Patel and Martin fell to Sidebottom in consecutive deliveries. It was nothing more than Sidebottom deserved. Once again he was the pick of England's bowlers. He will be hoping that England's batsmen give him the chance of bowling his hat-trick ball in Hamilton and not Wellington.Reuse content