England complete remarkable win

Andrew Strauss struck his 12th Test century on Monday to help England complete a remarkable six-wicket victory over New Zealand on the fourth day of the second Test at Old Trafford.

England, who trailed New Zealand by 179 runs on the first innings, reached their victory target of 294 in the final over before tea with four wickets to spare.

Strauss, recalled to the team in March after being dropped last year, made 106 after productive partnerships with Alastair Cook (out for 19 on Sunday), captain Michael Vaughan (48) and Kevin Pietersen (42 run out).

England, resuming on 76-1 after dismissing the Kiwis for only 114 in their second innings, also bettered the previous highest fourth-innings winning total at Old Trafford. They scored 231 to defeat the West Indies four years ago.

The fall of Strauss, caught at slip off Iain O’Brien, and Pietersen, run out attempting a second run, created brief tension for England as they went from 235-2 to 248-4.

But Ian Bell (21 not out) and Paul Collingwood (24 not out) saw them home, despite O’Brien dropping an easy chance from Bell off his own bowling.

After Ross Taylor’s spectacular 154 not out from 176 balls put New Zealand in command on Saturday, the match swung on Sunday when 16 wickets fell.

England crashed to 202 all out in their first-innings replying to New Zealand’s 381, and then the Kiwis collapsed when England left-arm spinner Monty Panesar claimed Test best figures of 6-37. Panesar was named man of the match.

Positive start

Monday began under a bright blue sky but with a cold, blustery wind. Strauss and Vaughan started in positive fashion, running several quick singles.

The New Zealand captain, Daniel Vettori, who claimed 5-66 in the first innings, lacked the same threat second time round, while his team’s fielding also appeared lethargic at times.

Vettori allowed a drive from Strauss escape through his legs for a single and in the next over a wild and pointless throw from wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum carried on for four overthrows, giving Strauss five.

Pietersen took England closer with a straight six off Vettori, and Strauss showed his growing confidence by advancing down the pitch to Vettori and flicking a straight ball over mid-wicket for four. Two balls later he stroked another boundary.

”Yesterday [Sunday] we looked dead and buried,” Vaughan told a television interviewer. ”It’s a very special victory from where we were yesterday afternoon.

The third and final Test starts at Trent Bridge in Nottingham on June 5. — Reuters

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