Taylor ton puts Kiwis on top

Bowlers of all persuasions toil on slow pitch

By Graeme Mair.   Last Updated: 07/03/08 5:39am

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Vettori congratulates Taylor on his century

Vettori congratulates Taylor on his century

Sky Bet

England reached 87-2 in reply after Ross Taylor's maiden century led New Zealand to a total of 470 on the second day of the opening Test at Seddon Park.

Taylor made 120 and captain Daniel Vettori contributed 88 as New Zealand batted until tea to extend their first innings from 282-6 to 470 all out.

Michael Vaughan and Alastair Cook then made a solid, unspectacular start to England's reply with an opening stand of 84 in 36.2 overs.

But the late departure of Cook and nightwatchman Matthew Hoggard meant the day finished on a slightly sour note for England, who closed still 383 runs behind.

Steady progress

Taylor and Vettori had batted throughout the morning as New Zealand added 105 runs without alarm during the first session.

The conditions could not have been more friendly for batting, with the sun out and a docile pitch offering no encouragement for bowlers.

England resumed with the second new ball just six overs old, but it soon became clear they had little hope of restricting New Zealand to around 350, as had been their stated intention.

Instead Taylor's driving through the off-side provided the highlight, the 23-year-old - playing in only his third Test - cashed in on anything overpitched, and there was plenty of it.

The Central Districts right-hander, who had resumed on 54, reached his maiden Test century in the 20th over of the day by pulling a short delivery from Steve Harmison to the midwicket boundary for the 16th four of his innings, having been stuck on 98 for nine deliveries.

The performance of Harmison was a major concern for Vaughan. For the second day in a row the Durham paceman appeared listless while operating barely above medium pace.

Taylor-made for Pietersen

England had to wait until the eighth over of the afternoon for their first breakthrough. An exploratory over of Kevin Pietersen's off-spin gained the unexpected reward of Taylor's wicket courtesy of a top-edged swipe that went straight up in the air.

The ugly ending did not detract from Taylor's superb 120, which featured 18 fours, and signalled his arrival as a Test cricketer. The 148 he added with Vettori was also the record for New Zealand's seventh wicket against England.

Vettori had also looked set for a three-figure score, but was denied the landmark when, on 88, he guided a catch off Paul Collingwood (2-42) to Andrew Strauss standing alone at third slip.

Sidebottom (4-90) finished off the innings with the wickets of Jeetan Patel (5) and Chris Martin with successive deliveries. Patel edged to Strauss at first slip and Martin - 'the worst batsman in the history of the game' according to Martin Crowe - had his off-stump sent cartwheeling for a golden duck to leave Kyle Mills (25no) stranded.

Double blow

After an early tea, New Zealand's bowlers found it just as hard work and looked in little danger of taking a wicket while Vaughan and Cook mixed watchful defence with an occasional attacking stroke to compile a half-century opening stand.

England got within six overs of the close before a brain fade from Cook (38) gifted the hosts their first wicket. The Essex left-hander top edged an ambitious attempt to drag a Martin delivery from outside off-stump and the resulting top edge was well held by substitute fielder Nick Horsley.

Worse followed for England when nightwatchman Hoggard (2) edged a defensive prod to Stephen Fleming at first slip in Martin's (2-27) next over.

That led to the belated appearance at the crease of Strauss (1no), playing his comeback innings after being left out for the Test series in Sri Lanka prior to Christmas. He made it through the 15 balls to the close alongside Vaughan (44no).

A further positive for England was the news that Ian Bell, who was taken to hospital after being struck on the hand while fielding at short-leg on the first day, has suffered only bruising and is set to bat at number five in the order as originally planned.

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