Eng Lions 280 & 360-8 dec New Zealand 273 & 201-4: How and Redmond stand tall to lift Kiwi confidence
Monday 12 May 2008
New Zealand's openers Jamie How and Aaron Redmond ensured that last night's coach journey from Southampton to London for Thursday's first Test at Lord's was made in good spirit when they compiled an impressive 151-run partnership against the England Lions. The stand ensured the Black Caps' encouraging start to their tour continued, and at one stage gave them a chance of an unexpected victory.
The Lions batted for a hour on the final morning, extending their lead to 368 before declaring, Graeme Swann striking a quickfire 50 under a hot sun. The last thing Michael Vaughan would have wanted was the Black Caps being given a chance of a morale-boosting win but at tea, with the tourists on 147 without loss, it became a possibility.
Adil Rashid, who struck three times in four post-tea overs, ruined the tourists' hopes in a fine spell. Yorkshire's exciting young leg-spinning all-rounder has some way to go before he can be considered for Test cricket but he got spin and bounce from an excellent pitch in taking 3 for 63.
Redmond was the first to go on 64, driving the 20-year-old to Matthew Hoggard at mid-off. How then danced down the pitch and missed an ungainly hack and was stumped by Matthew Prior. Ross Taylor's poor form continued when he was lbw before Chris Tremlett, the pick of the Lions seamers, trapped Justin Marshall in front. The wickets ended New Zealand's chances, even though Brendon McCullum was at the crease and the teams settled for a draw 50 minutes before the close.
Over the four days there were several pleasing performances from the Lions. Luke Wright and Michael Carberry hit excellent hundreds and Tremlett's bowling was superb. Hoggard did little to push his Test chances, though. The 31-year-old was steady but unthreatening during a six-over opening spell. By his fifth over he had one slip, a gully and two fielders on the drive, not the field of a man expecting to rip through the opposition.
New Zealand will face a sterner test at Lord's but Redmond will enter the Test with confidence high after scoring 210 runs here. If he and How can protect the middle order scores over 350 are attainable. If they don't it is hard to see the tourists winning a Test.
New Zealand's captain Daniel Vettori had the stitches removed from his spinning finger yesterday.
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