England, NZ look to first hour of day two to set tone for test

By Greg Stutchbury

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - The first hour of play on the second day of the second test between New Zealand and England is likely to have a crucial bearing on the possible outcome of the match, both sides said on Thursday.

England's batsmen took advantage of a pitch that offered New Zealand's bowlers little assistance to post an imposing 267 for two at the close of the first day's play on Thursday with Jonathan Trott on 121 not out.

Trott had also combined in a 210-run partnership with Nick Compton (100) to seize the advantage heading into Friday's second day of play.

"It's important we have a good session tomorrow and set up the game," Trott said. "You don't want to undo today's work by being a bit lazy and taking things for granted and looking too far ahead in terms of a declaration or that sort of stuff.

"That will take care of itself if we look after the first hour tomorrow and that is the first mission I think."

Trott was especially pleased to have scored his ninth test century after he missed out on a big score in the drawn first test in Dunedin.

He top-scored with 45 in England's first innings of 167 then scored 52 in the second as his side batted to save the match.

Despite the easy nature of the pitch, however, Trott was never quite sure that he could score a century until he was almost at the milestone.

"When I was 99," he said with a smile when asked if there was any point during his innings when he felt he would pass three figures. "I was trying not to think too far ahead, it's a long way from nought. In the context of starting an innings, you never really want to pre-empt anything or look too far ahead.

"I felt pretty good, I felt my feet were moving all right (and) it's nice to get some runs after Dunedin, where I should have maybe got a few more, but that's cricket really."

New Zealand's bowlers, who toiled for 170 overs in England's second innings in Dunedin, found the sun-drenched Basin Reserve pitch just as unrewarding as University Oval.

The second new ball was taken just before stumps and will be 10 overs old when play resumes on Friday, which New Zealand pace bowler Tim Southee said the home side must exploit to get back into the match.

"It's a big start tomorrow and hopefully we can get into them early," Southee said.

"If we can build some pressure, and we know from previous games here if you grab one you can grab a couple so we'll be looking to do that in the morning."

It was the home side bowlers' failure to exert any real pressure for sustained periods on Thursday, that allowed England to build their solid base.

The visitors, however, did not have it all their own way with a period for about an hour after lunch, New Zealand's bowlers clamped down and dried up the run rate, even if the visitors' response was simply to hunker down and wait them out.

"It was a tough day," Southee said. "I don't think we started particularly well with the new ball in favourable conditions and that little period after lunch wasn't great.

"But in between that we managed to dry it up and if we grabbed a couple if wickets it could have been a different story."

(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)