England hold on in thrilling finale

March 27, 2013 at 5:19 pm Leave a comment

One of the things non-cricket fans struggle to comprehend about the game is how teams can play for five days yet still only draw. England and New Zealand have gone better than that, playing nearly 15 days of cricket only to see the series tied at 0-0.

That scoreline barely tells half the story, though, certainly on a thrilling final day in Auckland which saw the New Zealand v England Cricket Betting veer one way then the next.

New Zealand may well have triumphed in Dunedin had it not been for the rain, while poor weather probably cost England victory in Wellington – so Eden Park would always going to be the decider.

With the weather set fair the game was allowed to be played through to its conclusion – and what a conclusion it was.

England were staring down the barrel at the start of the final day, slumped on 90-4 and with the winning target of 481 well out of reach – it was all about survival.

Joe Root and Ian Bell gave England their first sense of belief, holding firm until just before lunch, when Root was trapped lbw by Trent Boult with the new ball.

Bell and Jonny Bairstow were both dropped just before the interval and although the latter would not last much beyond the break, Bell would stick around for the majority of the afternoon session, eventually departing for a 271-ball five and a half hour 75.

By then Matt Prior was at the crease and he turned in a match-winning 110 not out, curbing his attacking instincts to guide the tail through to the conclusion. He rode his luck, not least when the ball cannoned off his helmet before knocking into the stumps, but crucially failing to dislodge the bails.

Stuart Broad, whose batting has deteriorated in recent years, defiantly stuck around for 77 balls, showing the patience his petulant display on day four sadly lacked.

Still despite their efforts Broad’s eventual dismissal was quickly followed by Jimmy Anderson, leaving Monty Panesar 21 balls to try and survive with Prior.

Monty is a cult hero with England fans, as much for his perceived weaknesses than his skills, but he gamely held on here in the most trying of circumstances, even if his comedy mis-timed slide while chasing one run set hearts a fluttering.

In a situation that can only occur in Test cricket, five days of sporting action, largely dominated by the hosts, came down to the last over, with Panesar’s single off the second ball the most important he has ever scored in international cricket.

Prior saw out the over to secure an unlikely draw and save face for England after a below par tour. Following the highs of India’s and the looming challenge of Australia, it seems New Zealand were somewhat overlooked. But despite some poor days, England always seems to respond when they are backed into a corner. Something that will serve their Ashes odds well in this year of cricket.


Entry filed under: Cricket, England.

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