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Tuesday, Mar 26, 2002

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Sport - Cricket

Kiwis salvage a draw

Wellington MARCH 25. New Zealand denied England a series-clinching victory on the final day of the second Test at the Basin Reserve here on Monday.

England, which won the opening Christchurch Test by 98 runs, dominated the match and gave itself a chance of forcing a result after almost two days had been wiped out by the weather.

The Kiwis, faced with 356 runs to win off 86 overs after a morning England declaration, batted out 84 overs to give it a chance of squaring the series in the final Test match on Eden Park's drop-in pitch in Auckland, starting on Saturday.

When the rival captains agreed to call an end to the stalemate, New Zealand was 158 for four with Nathan Astle on 11 and Craig McMillan on 17 at the crease.

England got meagre reward for skipper Nasser Hussain's declaration at 293 for four at the stroke of the morning drinks. The tourists snared the wickets of Mark Richardson, Matt Horne, Lou Vincent and skipper Stephen Fleming on a slow lifeless pitch.

Richardson was out just before lunch to a well-judged running catch by Graham Thorpe at backward square leg, top edging a sweep off Ashley Giles for four.

Andrew Flintoff, bowling into the teeth of a brisk southerly, completed a fine all-round performance when he got Horne's wicket in the middle session. Horne was caught behind by James Foster for 38.

Vincent batted for 181 minutes for his 71 before he was leg before to Matthew Hoggard late in the day. He scored 57 in the first innings.

Circumspect Fleming eked out 11 runs in 143 minutes off 108 balls before he was deceived by Hoggard's reverse swing and was bowled middle-stump with 19 scheduled overs left. Wicketkeeper Foster had dropped Fleming off Flintoff when he was only one.

Earlier, Flintoff bludgeoned a 44-ball 75, the 10th- fastest Test half-century, to set up the England declaration. The Lancashire giant, who slammed his maiden Test century in the first Test in Christchurch, was promoted to number four in the batting order to juice up England's scoring and set up the declaration.

England, which led by 246 runs going into the final day, batted positively and chased quick runs to set up the declaration. Its 293 runs came off 66 overs at a brisk run rate of 4.4. But in doing so the tourists sacrificed wickets along the way.

Flintoff hit two huge sixes, one over the sightscreen off Chris Martin, and his 53 exhilarating minutes at the crease was just the tonic England needed to build a sizeable total and attempt to bowl out the Kiwis.

His excellent innings came to an end just before drinks in the extended morning session when he was caught and bowled by spinner Daniel Vettori.

Mark Butcher lasted 15 minutes in the morning today before he holed out to Martin at mid-off off Chris Drum for 60. Fellow opener Marcus Trescothick missed out on his third Test century when he got a top edge sweeping Vettori and was caught behind the wicket by Richardson for 88. Hussain declared as the drinks cart was coming on to the field to give his bowlers a minimum of 86 overs to dismiss New Zealand. — AFP

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