Feb 28 (Reuters) - Hamish Rutherford put himself firmly in contention to make his test debut next week against England after he scored 90 for the New Zealand XI on the second day of their four day match against the tourists in Queenstown on Thursday.
The 23-year-old Rutherford was named in New Zealand's test squad on Sunday and was strongly tipped to make his debut by opening the innings with Peter Fulton on his home ground at University Oval in Dunedin from March 6.
New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said, however, that while Rutherford was the likely option both he and Tom Latham would be closely watched in the game at Queenstown Events Centre.
Latham, who is also in the test squad, was trapped leg before wicket by offspinner Graeme Swann for 16.
Both Latham and Rutherford have played limited overs internationals for New Zealand but are yet to make their test debut.
Test batsman Dean Brownlie also received some valuable time in the middle against the England attack, scoring 63 as the hosts made 224 for six in reply to England's first innings of 426.
BJ Watling was 26 not out at the close of play.
Ian Bell, who scored a century on the first day, was the last man out for the visitors in the morning session when he was caught by substitute fielder Michael Rae off test hopeful Neil Wagner for 158.
Left armer Wagner and fellow quick Mark Gillespie are also contesting for the final place in the 13-man squad for the first test, with the South African-born Wagner taking four for 98 from 26.2 overs.
Otago all-rounder Jimmy Neesham had the best figures for the New Zealand XI with four for 73, including capturing the first three wickets to fall in Wednesday's first session. (Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Patrick Johnston)