Anderson gives England hope as Rutherford turns the screw for Kiwis

Stumps on Day 3 (after bad light suspended play) - New Zealand 402 for 7 (Rutherford 171, Fulton 55, Anderson 4-108)

Hamish Rutherford completed a majestic debut innings of 171 (highest debutant 1st innings score against England in Test history) as New Zealand finished Day 3 with a commanding lead of 235 runs.

Exactly what Andy Flower said at the end of Day 2 is unknown, but England showed more purpose in the morning session of day 3 than they had the entire previous day. Anderson and Finn both steamed in with aggression and intent not shying away from the odd verbal exchange in the process. No matter what they tried however, Hamish Rutherford seemed to have an answer. In an astonishing morning session the young Kiwi obliterated the England bowlers to all parts adding an impressive 90 runs to his overnight score of 77.

The ease and consistency with which Rutherford timed the ball from his hefty blade was astonishing. Even a spearing short delivery from Anderson which hit the youngster flush on the arm failed to halt the youngster’s momentum.

The day started with Peter Fulton reaching his second Test half century for New Zealand, almost seven years since his last against West Indies at Wellington. The glacial pace of his innings complimented his partner’s aggression as the home side moved past 150 with little incident.

Jimmy Anderson aggression could only be explained by the potential consumption of at least 4 cans of Red Bull in the morning. At one point his blood pressure could visibly be measured thanks to the throbbing vein in his neck. Fulton had clearly seen this and didn’t fancy hanging around for long, he is a gentle giant after all. On 55 he duly obliged Anderson by wafting at a wide delivery offering an easy catch to Prior. Jimmy erupted in a bemusing volcanic celebration to the delight AND relief of England fans, the vein thankfully reducing in size after the dismissal. The tourists had finally broken the deadlock in the 51st over and the score was 158-1.

Cook then decided to give Anderson a breather and began a bowler shuffling program in desperate attempt to oust Rutherford. Far from being put off by Finn’s laughable attempts at the Terminator glare or Jimmy’s Stuart Pearce celebration, the young Kiwi raced to his 150 in no time. After taking Anderson for 14 in one over, he proceeded to pummel Monty for two huge sixes in another, it was a fascinating spectacle. So dominant was his display that in a quickfire 50 partnership with the incoming Kane Williamson, Rutherford contributed 41 runs.

Monty did his best to bowl with discipline but found it difficult like the other bowlers given the dominance of Rutherford. He did eventually find some delight in the 74th over when he deceived Williamson on 24. The Kiwi no.3 bought Monty’s dummy and went back to a full length delivery losing his middle stump in the process. Monty’s celebration was a subdued double fist air pump, much to the disappointment of the barmy army. New Zealand were still on top at 249-2, Rutherford was still in.

After lunch Cook placed a new cherry into Jimmy’s hands and the Burnley express delivered a wicket with the very first delivery. The new ball fizzed with quicker air speed before jamming on a good length slowing down fractionally before deceiving Rutherford, who went through the shot too early and spooned it to mid-wicket. England were ecstatic but Rutherford had already done the damage with the best debut innings I’ve seen to date. He finished on 171 with New Zealand firmly in the driving seat on 267-3.

Now, I could talk about the remaining 28 overs of play which followed Rutherford’s innings but history tends to have a short memory for such passages of play. So, I’ve decided to summarize the rest of the day’s play, because let’s face it, 8th of March 2013 will always be remembered by cricket fans as Hamish Rutherford’s debut day.

Following Rutherford’s departure New Zealand scored 135-4 in 28 overs, ending the day (stopped for bad light) on 402-7 with a lead of 235runs (BB.McCullum 44*, BP.Martin 17*)

Jimmy Anderson was England’s stand out bowler once more, taking the key wickets of Ross Taylor and Dean Brownlie in this passage of play. He finished the day on 4-108 off 29 overs.

The key question now remains whether the unpredictable weather will affect McCullum’s decision to declare early tomorrow. As it stands it’s more than likely he’ll come out with all guns blazing looking to accelerate the lead towards 300. England will be looking to get McCullum early, because if they don’t the pressure of a chase might be rather telling.

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