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New Zealand's Hamish Rutherford looks on as Ian Bellmisses a catch at Dunedin.
New Zealand's Hamish Rutherford looks on as Ian Bellmisses a catch at Dunedin.

New Zealand take charge after England suffer embarrassing start to first Test

The visitors crashed out for 167 inside two sessions as Bruce Martin marked his debut test for New Zealand in style at Dunedin.

Bruce Martin and Hamish Rutherford made dream starts to their Test careers as England suffered a nightmare start to the first Test in Dunedin.

The visitors, put in to bat by New Zealand during the washed-out first day at the University Oval, crashed all out for just 167 inside two sessions as Martin and Neil Wagner each claimed a quartet of wickets.

Then Rutherford helped drive the hosts to 131-0 by close of play on the second day, with his unbeaten 77 leaving New Zealand just 36 behind the visitors.

Only Jonathan Trott, among the frontline batsmen, and then tailenders James Anderson and Steven Finn held off the hosts for any length of time.

The contrast was yawning when the hosts took their turn to bat, earlier than they could have dreamed on a mostly unresponsive surface.

Debutant Rutherford (77no), following his father Ken into Test cricket for his country, was the dominant force on a day when nothing worthwhile went right for England.

After ducks for Kevin Pietersen and Nick Compton, and little of substance from anyone else apart from Trott, England were already in trouble on a lunchtime 81 for five.

If they dared to hope Trott or Matt Prior might bail them out, they were soon very disappointed as both fell compliantly in early afternoon.

Pietersen went first ball, for the fifth time in his Test career, and the hint of a morning recovery from 18 for three in a stand of 46 between Trott and Ian Bell was as good as it ever got for England at the start of a series many expected them to dominate.

Those predictions were in need of scrutiny from the moment Wagner (four for 42) saw off first Alastair Cook and then Pietersen with only his second and third deliveries on his home debut.

England, put in by Brendon McCullum before bad weather prevented any play yesterday, were already minus Compton in the third over of a sunny morning.

He paid for a hesitant push forward at Tim Southee, making contact with only the bottom of his defensive bat and unable to stop the ball rushing through to disturb off-stump.

It was perhaps a slightly unfortunate but still worrying mode of dismissal for the man who, it is hoped, will open alongside Cook in back-to-back Ashes series this year.

Cook had a let-off, dropped by Martin when he clipped Trent Boult to midwicket, but he could add only a single before cutting Wagner tamely to point.

Pietersen never got bat on ball at all, undone lbw by a good inswinger from left-armer Wagner.

Trott appeared in control at a ground he knows well from his time with Otago seven years ago - but after an encouraging partnership, Bell was to hand the initiative right back to the opposition by poking a catch to cover off Wagner.

Joe Root fenced high to second slip off Boult, and after lunch Prior cut slow left-armer Martin (four for 42) straight to point.

England had already donated most of their wickets, before the previously exonerated Trott mistimed a sweep to short fine-leg.

Stuart Broad then produced the dopiest shot of all when he followed a slog-sweep for four by pulling a Martin long-hop into the hands of deep square-leg immediately after McCullum had put the man there.

Anderson and Finn shared the highest stand of the innings, for the ninth wicket, but still had a meagre total to bowl at - one which was soon put into cruel context by Rutherford and Fulton's century opening stand.

Rutherford already had a 65-ball half-century under his belt when he crashed one back at Broad, who could not hang on diving to his left.

If that was a half-chance, the percentages were much more in Pietersen's favour soon afterwards yet he spilled Rutherford again on 64 at point off Broad.

The left-hander had greeted the introduction of Monty Panesar with a six over long-on in the spinner's first over, to go with eight fours in his 50.

Fulton was more studied, but gave no encouragement to England - for whom there were many distressing statistics to attend a miserable first day of Test action in this high-profile year.

They have, for example, been bowled out for under 200 in each initial innings of their last four overseas Test tours.

For New Zealand, there was only a bright side - including the fact that, without the injury-enforced absences of first-choice seamer Doug Bracewell and regular opener Martin Guptill, neither Wagner nor Rutherford would have got their chance here.


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