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Cricket: Two-ton Fulton rises from New Zealand scrapheap

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Black Caps opener Peter Fulton celebrated his recall from the cricket scrapheap on Monday by becoming only the fourth New Zealander to score back-to-back centuries in a Test.

The at times ungainly opener belted the prime of English bowling to all corners of the ground in a rollicking second innings 110 to give New Zealand a stranglehold on the third and deciding Test in the series.

At stumps on Monday, with one day to play, England were fighting for survival at 90 for four after being set a world record target of 481 to win.

Fulton, who toiled hard to resurrect New Zealand's second innings after they were three down for eight, brought up his boundary-laden 110 in 165 balls.

In the first innings, when New Zealand were intent on building a competitive total, he faced 346 balls for his 136.

With scores of 55, 1 and 45 early in the first two England Tests, the 34-year-old Fulton has raised his average to 33.05 from the mediocre 20.93 when he was cast into the wilderness four years ago after 10 Tests.

The Canterbury opener, who has a first class 301 not out to his name in domestic cricket, said he always backed himself as a batsmen with a range of shots in his repertoire.

"But it's not often in a Test match you get the chance to swing the bat with no consequence of getting out so it was nice," he said.

Fulton and Dean Brownlie worked hard to pull the New Zealand second innings around and put on 74 for the fourth wicket and with Brownlie's removal he belted 117 off 101 balls in partnership with Brendon McCullum.

"We did a lot of hard work last night, myself and Dean, getting through to stumps, and the game was right in the balance there this morning when we came out so we had to some more hard work," said Fulton.

"I guess at the end of that session Baz (McCullum) and I had a little bit of fun."

Fulton brought up his 100 by nonchalantly driving Stuart Broad over the bowler's head for six but said reaching his second century was not weighing on his mind.

"If I got a 100 I did, but it was not going to worry me. I was lucky I got one in the slot and it was a great feeling."

With Fulton and New Zealand's other opener Hamish Rutherford both excelling in the series, their places in the New Zealand team to play in England later this year seem assured.

It also poses the selectors with a welcome headache as regular opener and reigning New Zealand cricketer of the year Martin Guptill, who missed this series because of injury, is expected to be fit for the tour.

cf/mp/pdh

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130325/cricket-two-ton-fulton-rises-new-zealand-scrapheap