Jimmy Neesham celebrates dismissing Kevin Pietersen of
England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Otago all-rounder Jimmy Neesham had a hell of a morning,
but England rallied in the afternoon to reach 357 for seven in
its four-day match with the New Zealand XI in Queenstown.
Ian Bell (127) anchored the England's innings with a patient
and undefeated century.
It was a solid dress rehearsal for the upcoming test series.
The gritty right-hander raised the milestone with a lovely
cover drive then celebrated with a late flurry of boundaries
off the bowling of both Neil Wagner and Mark Gillespie. The
latter, though, had a very confident appeal for caught behind
turned down when Bell was on 118.
From New Zealand's perspective, Neesham was the star.
He ripped out three quick wickets, including the prized
scalps of Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott as the tourists
slumped to 81 for three.
Neesham's opening seven over spell netted three wickets for
30 runs, and when Wagner nicked out Alastair Cook for 60
after the lunch break, England's innings was delicately
poised at 124 for four.
But Bell and Joe Root rallied, added 97 for the fifth-wicket.
Root, arguably, was the most impressive of the English
batsmen on display. He played with comfort from the back foot
and punched several drives through the covers. But in sight
of a half century, he inexplicably missed a straight delivery
from part-timer Carl Cachopa.
Bell was resolute throughout his innings and his partnership
with Root rescued what was shaping as a mediocre afternoon
session for the visitors.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior took advantage of a tiring
New Zealand XI attack, slapping a rapid 41 from 43 deliveries
before he whacked a cut shot straight to Jeetan Patel, with
Neesham celebrating a fourth wicket.
The 22-year-old gave a fine account of himself. While either
Wagner or Gillespie are expected to be added to the test
squad for the first test in Dunedin next month, Neesham
certainly did his prospects no harm, finishing with four for
65 from 17 overs.
He got the ball to straighten off the seam just enough to
unsettle England's top order and he is bound to cherish
dominating an out-of-sorts Pietersen.
The classy right-hander slashed an edge which provincial
team-mate Hamish Rutherford hauled in with a nicely timed
leap in the slips.
Otago under-19 player Michael Rae came on as a sub fielder
and took a simple catch late in the day to help dismiss Chris