Queenstown: England will go into next week's first Test against New Zealand with question marks over the form of leading batsmen Kevin Pietersen and Nick Compton following failures in the ongoing four-day match against New Zealand XI. Pietersen had scores of 14 and 8 and opener Compton made 21 and 1 in their only prepatory innings in New Zealand conditions ahead of the Test which starts at Dunedin on Wednesday.
England were 256-9 at stumps on Friday, leading New Zealand XI by 333 runs with a day remaining. Ian Bell followed his first innings 158 with a solid 38. Wicketkeeper Matt Prior top-scored in the second innings with 68 after making 41 in the first while captain Alastair Cook was run out for 24 after making 60 in the first innings.
England made 426 in their first innings and the New Zealand XI declared after 95 overs at 349-7, conceding a 77-run lead. Opener Hamish Rutherford likely secured a Test debut for New Zealand with his top score of 90 while established Test players Dean Brownlie made 63 and B.J. Watling 66 not out.
None of the England bowlers shone with off-spinner Graeme Swann returning the best figures of 2-53. Prior's 68 was England's top-score and Swann made 41 not out as England strengthened their position in the match which concludes on Saturday. Fast bowler Mark Gillespie might have secured a place in New Zealand's first Test line-up with his haul of 4-87, though he has bowled 23 no balls in the match.