Ryan Sidebottom claimed a crucial late wicket to help England finish with a flourish on the opening day of the first Test against New Zealand.
Ryan Sidebottom claimed a crucial late wicket to help England finish with a flourish on the opening day of the first Test against New Zealand on Wednesday.
New Zealand looked to have overcome a late afternoon flurry of wickets with Ross Taylor and in-form Brendon McCullum combining in a productive 85-run sixth wicket stand.
But with only 11 balls remaining in the first day, left-arm seamer Sidebottom struck to remove McCullum and leave New Zealand on 282 for six despite winning the toss and batting first on an ideal batting surface.
The tourists seemed destined for a long day in the field with little success to show for it during the early stages with England suffering an early setback with Ian Bell being forced off the field with a fielding injury.
Warwickshire batsman Bell suffered a badly-bruised right hand attempting to protect himself at short leg in the 11th over of the match when opener Matthew Bell pulled a short ball from Sidebottom straight at him.
Bell was taken off the pitch by physiotherapist Kirk Russell and transferred to hospital for x-rays amid fears he may have broken his hand, which would have ruled him out for the remainder of the series.
But the X-rays failed to reveal a fracture and Bell, who was standing around five paces from the bat, received ice treatment for the remainder of the day.
Only four overs later, however, Steve Harmison lifted England's spirits by claiming an unexpected breakthrough when opener Bell, who had hit fours off his previous two deliveries, drove to Alastair Cook in the gully.
It was the solitary success of a frustrating day for Harmison, who struggled with his rhythm and failed to generate much pace all day as New Zealand progressed towards a healthy first innings score.
England captain Michael Vaughan was becoming increasingly frustrated at their failure to build on Harmison's breakthrough and used five different bowlers inside the first 26 overs as former captain Stephen Fleming and opener Jamie How forged a 64-run stand.
But just as Fleming, who is due to retire from international cricket at the end of this series, set his sights on a half-century, he attempted to cut a wide delivery from Sidebottom and was caught low down in the gully by Cook for 41.
Paul Collingwood built on that breakthrough by removing Mathew Sinclair nine overs later when he drove back down the pitch and gave a smart return catch.
England made further progress after tea with How, who had moved in sight of his maiden Test century but fell eight runs short when he pushed forward and edged left-arm spinner Monty Panesar behind and was caught low at slip by Collingwood.
He was followed eight overs later with Jacob Oram attempting to drive Matthew Hoggard, but became the third victim of the day for Cook who dived to his left at gully to take the catch.
But that set the stage for McCullum's arrival and he quickly began to show glimpses of the form he had shown in the recent one-day series triumph and raced to his half-century off only 53 balls.
But chasing a wide delivery with from Sidebottom with only one over remaining McCullum edged behind to debutant wicketkeeeper Tim Ambrose for 51 to give England a late breakthrough.
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