Queenstown: Opening batsman Hamish Rutherford pressed his claim for a Test debut as a New Zealand XI made slow progress against England on day two of a four-day warm-up match in Queenstown on Thursday. The home side were six for 224 at stumps in reply to England's first innings total of 426, with two late wickets for the tourists swinging momentum their way.
England started the day at seven for 357 and Ian Bell added 31 to his overnight total before the first innings came to a close when he was dismissed on 158. Graeme Swann contributed a quickfire 27 off 17 balls after Alastair Cook (60), Joe Root (49) and Matt Prior (41) all made good starts on the opening day. The pick of New Zealand's bowlers were Jimmy Neesham, who took four for 73, and Neil Wagner, four for 98.
Swann returned with the ball to trap Tom Latham lbw on 16 and caught Carl Cachopa for six off the bowling of Stuart Broad before dismissing Jimmy Neesham lbw for a duck off the last ball of the day. Rutherford, the son of former New Zealand opener Ken Rutherford, made a classy 90, including 13 fours and one six, before being bowled by Chris Woakes. While the 23-year-old was disappointed not to bring up a century, his performance is likely to be enough to cement a Test spot in a New Zealand team missing Martin Guptill through injury.
Dean Browlie also displayed his credentials with a battling 63, although a lapse in concentration sent him back to the pavilion in the second-last over of the day. The late wickets of Brownlie and Neesham leave the New Zealand XI facing a significant first innings deficit unless BJ Watling, 26 not out, can work with the tail-enders to narrow the gap early Friday.England won both the recent one-day and Twenty 20 series 2-1. The three-Test series begins in Dunedin on March 6.
Do you think Hamish Rutherford should get a go in the first Test against England?