Oram century saves New Zealand

New Zealand all-rounder Jacob Oram chose the right occasion and the perfect venue to score his first Test century against England on Monday with a match-saving innings in the first Test at Lord’s.

New Zealand held an overall lead of only 78 with four wickets down when wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum retired hurt and was taken to hospital after a blow to his left forearm.

Oram found a doughty partner in Daniel Flynn, who had struggled in his first-innings debut, but who batted with grit and intelligence to score 22 in a partnership of 132.

Oram reached his fifth Test century from 120 balls, accelerating in the second half, when he was bowled for 101 by Ryan Sidebottom.

By then he had taken New Zealand to the safety of a draw after 153.2 overs had been lost to rain and bad light on the first three days.

At the close the Kiwis were for 269-6 with Flynn on 29 and in good heart for the second Test starting at Old Trafford in Manchester on Friday.

New Zealand, who resumed at 40 for no wicket, an overall deficit of two, lost Aaron Redmond for 17 caught at first slip by Andrew Strauss off James Anderson.

James Marshall fell lbw for a duck 17 balls later to Sidebottom and Jamie How was lucky to escape when he was dropped by Strauss off Broad on 46.

How reached his second Test fifty with a slash for four over the slips off Broad and had taken his total to 68 when he was adroitly caught at third slip by Alastair Cook off Broad. Ross Taylor had already departed lbw to Monty Panesar for 20.

Oram charge

McCullum’s departure was the low point for New Zealand but Oram chose it as the moment to take control.

The left-hander used his long reach to negate Panesar’s left-arm spin and relieved the pressure with a sweep off the same bowler for six.

A square-drive off Sidebottom brought up the 50 partnership and when tea was taken at 199-4, the Kiwis were reasonably content with their day’s work.

After the interval, Oram thumped Broad through the off-side for four and unwound to smack Kevin Pietersen’s off-spin into the pavilion for his second six. A swept four followed and Sidebottom with the second new ball for once held no terrors.

Oram leaned back to drive a deceptively casual four through the covers to go into the nineties and played a perfectly timed drive off the front foot to the long-off boundary in the same over.

He reached his fifth Test century from the following ball with a push that sped to the extra-cover boundary.

Oram struck two sixes and 15 fours and his second fifty came from just 53 balls.

McCullum, relieved that an X-ray had revealed no fracture to his arm, returned after Oram’s dismissal to play some attractive shots before he was caught behind for 24.

After clouds rolled across the ground the umpires consulted and decided to call play off. — Reuters

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