Wellington, day two: New Zealand 66-3

The second day of the Wellington Test was a much better one for New Zealand, especially with the ball. I said after day one that their bowlers had to find something more than what they had been showing and they stepped up to take eight English wickets for fewer than two hundred runs. It was certainly not the day for which England were hoping, but they did do enough to get the score up to 465 all out, which is certainly still formidable.

A lot of the credit to that score must go to Matt Prior and Steven Finn. After Ian Bell and Joe Root had got out to a pair of poor shots in the morning, Prior came in and started to steady the ship and after Kevin Pietersen and Stuart Broad departed in quick succession in the afternoon Finn kept him company. The pair came together with the score 374-7 and England still some way short of a good total. But Finn survived for 82 deliveries whilst Prior scored quickly from the other end and the pair put on 83 runs in just under twenty overs. Finn got a bit of criticism during his innings for the slow rate at which he scored, but it was entirely unjustified. Prior can and did score quite quickly and what he needed was a foil to prevent him from running out of partners. Finn provided an excellent one and deserves credit for the way he hung around.

Four hundred and sixty-five was still not as many as England would have liked, but impressive bowling in the evening session was enough to tilt the day into their favour. There was pace in the pitch and a bit of movement through the air, though the seamers did get a bit carried away with the bounce and started bowling a bit too short. This allowed New Zealand to put together a decent partnership for the second wicket, but Broad was the first one to find the right length and promptly took two wickets in as many deliveries.

The forecast for the last two days of the Test has improved slightly, but England will still want to hurry things along. New Zealand need another two hundred runs exactly to avoid the follow-on and England’s best chance to force a victory is to make sure that the Kiwis don’t get there. England will probably need to get amongst the wickets early tomorrow and they can get McCullum out before he can rescue his side again.

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