Strauss, Bell centuries put England in charge

Updated: 08 April 2008 08:25 IST

Centuries by Strauss and Bell put England firmly in command of the third Test against New Zealand.

Napier (New Zealand):

Andrew Strauss and Ian Bell centuries put England firmly in command of the third cricket Test against New Zealand on Monday as they ended day three with a 501-run second innings lead.

Strauss remained unbeaten on a career-best 173 with England at 416 for five.

He had earlier shared in a 187-run stand for the fourth wicket with Bell who was out for 110.

In this series-deciding third and final encounter New Zealand will again face a world record fourth innings target after being asked to chase 438 in the second Test in Wellington and falling 126 runs short.

New Zealand won the first Test in Hamilton by 189 runs.

Strauss, who was handed a lifeline by being selected for this England squad after missing the previous series against Sri Lanka, had failed to excite in his early outings in New Zealand.

In his first five Test innings he only averaged 19.4, before coming right to produce his 11th Test century and first in 16 Tests.

Bell scored his seventh Test hundred ending a 12-match lull.

England resumed the day at 91 for two and the only wicket to fall in the first session was first innings centurion Kevin Pietersen who was neatly caught by Ross Taylor at slip.

Pietersen went to turn Daniel Vettori down the leg side only to have the ball deflect off the back of the bat for Taylor to pick up diving to his right.

Strauss, meanwhile, continued undaunted by his first innings duck and after arriving at the crease in the first over of England's second innings with the early dismissal of captain Michael Vaughan.

The South African-born left-hander brought up his 50 driving Chris Martin straight to the boundary, and his century came slashing Martin for four.

He offered one chance when on 62 when he struck out at Vettori but the ball hit Matthew Bell in the chest at short leg and bounced out.

It was a rather sedate morning session for England when they scored just 76 runs, before adding 135 between lunch and tea and another 114 after tea.

Ian Bell, who arrived at the wicket with Pietersen's dismissal, went hunting runs from the start proving the wicket was batsman friendly despite New Zealand's spectacular collapse when they lost nine wickets for 65 runs on the second day.

Unlike Strauss who took 225 deliveries to reach his century, Bell hooked Martin to the boundary to reach his milestone in 150 balls in an innings that included 16 fours and two sixes.

But his flamboyant knock came to a tame end when he half-heartedly drove Vettori straight to Mathew Sinclair at mid-off.

Vettori also removed Paul Collingwood for 22 with a straight forward caught and bowled leaving Tim Ambrose, unbeaten on 28, with Strauss at the close.

New Zealand captain Vettori was the only successful bowler on the day, taking all three wickets to fall and finishing with figures of three for 135 off 40 overs.

When, or if, England declare it will be a tough task for New Zealand whose highest successful run chase was 324 for five against Pakistan in 14 years ago.

The record winning fourth-innings total is 418 by the West Indies when they beat Australia in 2003.

Topics : Cricket England Australia West Indies
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