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Cricket-Double edged sword for NZ after credible first test

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

By Greg Stutchbury

DUNEDIN, New Zealand, March 11 (Reuters) - New Zealand's credible performance in forcing England into a position where they had to bat to save the first test in Dunedin will be a double-edged sword when the two teams arrive in Wellington later on Monday to prepare for the second test.

The positive side will be the way in which they outclassed England in both facets of the game in the first innings of the rain-effected match.

Dismissing a team that includes two players with more than 7,000 test runs each and three with more than 3,000, for just 167 showed they created some pressure with the ball on a relatively flat pitch.

England's approach when they batted in their first innings was cavalier, but the way they were forced to dig in to save the match in their second innings showed they had realised they could not just show up to win the match, or series.

New Zealand's attack would ask questions of their batsmen and the way Neil Wagner and Trent Boult continued to charge in despite their second innings workload indicated their desire to keep the England batsmen honest for the rest of the series.

"This is a big step for us to look at where we were and where we are now and show ourselves and also our fans what were capable of achieving against good teams too," New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum said.

"The challenge now is to back it up for test two and test three and continue to put yourself in positions where you're dominating and dictating the test match."

New Zealand's batsmen also performed with all of the top six getting starts, though Hamish Rutherford's 171 on debut was particularly important to help McCullum declare at 460 for nine and then give his bowlers a chance to dismiss England again.

"Yeah, 170 off 230 balls, it's a dream debut," McCullum said of the left handed Rutherford, who paid back the faith in the selectors when he was named in the squad ostensibly because Martin Guptill was injured.

"It was an amazing effort to turn up on debut and in an area where we've struggled in the past. And not just make runs but the way he made the runs.

"To have someone who scores at such a clip put us in a position in a four-day test match where we able to try and push for a result. He was outstanding."

The bad news for McCullum is that England now know what to expect for the remainder of the series. No more left field selections. No more surprises from the team they face on Thursday in Wellington.

"We don't expect anything. They've shown in this test match, if you don't play well you get punished," England captain Alastair Cook said. "We've been, not lucky, lucky in one sense to escape with a draw certainly.

"That's a huge reminder that if you don't perform, you don't deserve to win anything."

Batting for almost two days to save the match and forcing New Zealand's bowlers to charge in for 170 overs, would help with their confidence as they prepared for the match, Cook added.

"It certainly gives us some confidence, especially when you get bowled out for 160 in the first innings, as a batting unit you can start to have negative thoughts," he said.

"To bounce back straight away, especially when you've got such a mountain of time to bat, yes on a flat wicket, you don't want that to snowball.

"I'm really happy with the way the batting lineup has put a really good marker down." (Editing by Patrick Johnston)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130310/cricket-double-edged-sword-nz-after-credible-first-test