Bowled Over – England Battle for Draw – By Luqman Liaqat

Night-watchman Steve Finn scored his first Test match half-century helping England secure a draw in the three-match series opener against New Zealand in Dunedin.

Finn was sent out to bat late in the evening when Alistair Cook fell after reaching a hundred, Nick Compton (117), Jonathan Trott and Matt Prior chipped in to attain the draw.

The first day of first test between New Zealand and England was washed out without a single ball being bowled due to heavy rain throughout most of the day in Dunedin.

Earlier in the day it was confirmed key spinner Graeme Swann would miss the rest of the series and faces surgery on his right elbow. James Tredwell was called up in the squad for the remainder of the series with Monty Panesar already included.

England endured a miserable start to their test series as the Black Caps took full control at the University Oval.

Alaistair Cook was Neil Wagner’s first of four victims when he was held at point by Hamish Rutherford and Kevin Pietersen followed the skipper back to the pavilion off the very next ball trapped lbw.

Despite a mini recovery by Ian Bell and Jonathon Trott of 46 runs, Wagner removed Bell for 24 and England were on the ropes at 71-5 when Trent Boult had Joe Root caught at second slip.

The innings never improved after lunch; Prior fell for 23 to the left-arm debutant Bruce Martin and only Trott looked in form but a moment of madness saw him miss time a sweep shot to short fine leg.

On the last wicket Finn (20) and James Anderson (23) added a partnership of 47 before Wagner (4-42) took his fourth wicket of Finn and Martin (4-43) claimed Anderson caught at point finishing England’s innings for just 167.

In reply, Rutherford (77) and Peter Fulton (46) rubbed salt into the three lion’s wounds as New Zealand closed day two on 131-0.

The openers continued their solid opening stand taking the hosts past 150 before Prior held a low catch off Anderson in the process removing Fulton for 55.

Despite a breakthrough early in the day, Rutherford and Kane Williamson shared a stand of 91 for the third wicket taking the score to 249. Panesar had been suffering at the hands of Rutherford but he struck bowling out Williamson for 24.

Rutherford’s remarkable innings of 171 included beautiful driving through the covers and mid-on from Finn and Anderson bowling. He is also hit two massive sixes of Panesar before departing in the afternoon session caught at midwicket by substitute Chris Woakes off Anderson’s bowling.

Three dismissals followed for 16 runs as the tourists reduced the hosts 326-6, with Anderson taking two. BJ Watling came and went without troubling the score being bowled out by Broad.

McCullum and Tim Southee scored 44 runs in six overs to take New Zealand 200 runs ahead. Southee departed for 25, but McCullum (44 not out) and Martin (17 not out) carried out till stumps taking the score to 402-7.

New Zealand added 58 runs on day three to their overnight score; McCullum added 30 off 17 balls including two sixes off Anderson and Broad.

Broad (3-118) finally removed the kiwis’ captain for 74 with Anderson taking the catch at midwicket. Debutant tailender Martin was out for a cameo of 41 caught behind by Prior off Finn (1-102).

New Zealand declared on 460-9 with a lead of 293 during the morning session, Compton and Cook batted brilliantly with a 231 run opening stand.

Cook reached his century, the innings of 116 off 252 balls which included 15 fours. Boult finally dismissed Cook as the wicket-keeper Watling held on behind.

Compton was under increasing pressure to keep his place in the team, he survived two run-out chances in the 90’s and he brought up the landmark with a quick single off his 252nd ball. Compton, along with night-watchman Finn, saw of the remaining delivers of the day ensuring England remain in contention for a draw. England finished day four on 234-1 with a deficit of 59 runs.

Compton fell early on day five for 117, Wagner trapped him leg before with a sharp in swinging delivery. Trott and Finn shared a 90 run stand, Finn reached his fifty with five boundaries hit to the third man boundary.

Trott hit eight fours in his knock of 52 before handing a caught and bowled to Wagner. Wagner (3-141) took his seventh wicket of the match sneaking out Pieterson for 12. Finn followed soon after for a hard worked 56 when Martin wrapped him on the pads leaving England on 386-5.

Even with a run out of Root it wasn’t enough for New Zealand to break through the tourist line up as Prior (26) and Bell (23) took England to 421-6 and a lead of 128, with timing running out the two teams decided to shake hands and call the match a draw.

Both teams will be hoping to find a pitch offering more help for bowlers moving to the next test in the series, Pieterson’s injured right knee will be the main worry for England heading into the 2nd Test match starting on Thursday at Wellington.

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