Black Caps seize initiative
Ross Taylor's brilliant innings of 154 laid the platform for New Zealand to take control of the second Test against England.
By Graeme Mair
Last Updated: 25/05/08 6:25pm
Ross Taylor's brilliant innings of 154 laid the platform for New Zealand to take control of the second Test against England at Old Trafford.
Taylor led the Black Caps to a first innings score of 381 before England crawled their way to 152-4 in reply by the close of the second day, still 229 behind.
Daniel Vettori struck twice late in the day, dismissing Michael Vaughan and nightwatchman Ryan Sidebottom to tip the contest in New Zealand's favour.
After an initial flurry of boundaries, England's reply settled into a cautious approach, perhaps influenced by the Alastair Cook's departure in the 10th over to an extravagantly seaming delivery from Iain O'Brien.
O'Brien, who was preferred to Tim Southee in the only change to the XI that drew at Lord's, managed to jag one back sharply and trap Cook lbw for 19, although replays indicated it was a touch high.
Andrew Strauss added 78 either side of tea with skipper Michael Vaughan, a partnership that was - at times - hard work for batsmen and spectators alike.
Strauss battled his way to a valuable 60, but his 140-ball vigil was ended by the impressive O'Brien (2-37), aided by a superb one-handed, diving catch from wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum.
And the loss of Vaughan and Sidebottom in the final five overs of the evening session left England facing an uphill task to achieve first-innings parity.
Vaughan was lbw to Vettori's arm-ball for a becalmed 133-ball innings of 30, while Sidebottom (4) followed 13 deliveries later, edging a defensive push to Jamie How.
Ian Bell (4no) belatedly joined Kevin Pietersen (22no) to see England to the close of a day that stretched to 96 overs due to make up for yesterday's bad light stoppages.
Taylor turns the screw
In the morning session, New Zealand overcame the loss of Jacob Oram and Vettori to run outs within the space of three deliveries to add 179 runs to their overnight position of 202-4 before being all out in early afternoon for 381.
An ambling Oram (38) was beaten by Cook's direct hit from backward point and, even less forgivably, Vettori (1) followed two balls later after failing to slide his bat into the crease after coming back for what should have been a comfortable second run.
But England's bowlers largely fluffed their lines - the fast men bowling too short and Monty Panesar failing to settle in the face of an approach of all-out aggression from Taylor and seventh-wicket partner Kyle Mills.
With Daniel Flynn, who retired hurt yesterday after a James Anderson bouncer went through his helmet grille and demolished his front teeth, feeling unwell and unable to bat following extensive dental surgery overnight, the stage was set for Mills to showcase his batting talents.
The Auckland seamer took full advantage, playing some fine shots during a maiden Test half-century achieved during a stand of 89 in less than 20 overs with Taylor, before he was eventually bowled off an under edge by Anderson for 57.
But there was no stopping Taylor, who went on to finish on a Test-best score of 154 not out - the highest by a New Zealander at Old Trafford - the featured 17 fours and five sixes.
Anderson polished off tailenders O'Brien (5) and Chris Martin (0) to finish with 4-118.