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Kiwis evade Lions' clutches

Liam Plunkett

Liam Plunkett strives for a breakthrough as England fell one wicket short of victory

England Lions came agonisingly close to clinching their two-match series with New Zealand A, with an unbeaten century from 12th man Iain Robertson seeing the Kiwis safely to a draw in Lincoln.

Rob Key's side went into the fourth and final day needing nine wickets to claim victory - and a 1-0 series win - and fell just one short at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval, where the hosts closed on 393 for nine.

It was a fine effort on a last-day pitch which offered little support for the seamers - a flattening track with heavy wind hampering the run-in from one end - and would surely have led to victory had Robertson not replaced Ewen Thompson on day three.

Thompson, primarily a bowler, was called up to the senior Black Caps squad mid-match and was replaced by Robertson, a batsman.

Twelfth men are not typically allowed to bat or bowl but a gentleman's agreement between the sides meant the 26-year-old was able to take the crease, hitting a match saving 107 not out in 148 balls as the Lions attack chipped away at the other end.

Things started well for New Zealand, who moved from 72 for one overnight to 107 before Durham seamer Liam Plunkett picked off Aaron Redmond lbw for 55.

The same bowler struck again four overs later, with Daniel Flynn caught by Stephen Moore for 45.

Peter Fulton and Kane Williamson then came together for a 87-run partnership before Lancashire quick Sajid Mahmood returned to take two wickets in quick succession.

Williamson (48) was first to go, Ben Scott holding the catch, with Lions skipper Key just as alert when he snapped up James Franklin for an eight-ball single.

Fulton finally fell for a painstaking 45 to the hard-working Gareth Batty before wicketkeeper Reece Young joined Robertson in a stand worth 147 for the seventh wicket.

Jonathan Trott made the breakthrough in the 91st over, with the impressive Mahmood sending back Brent Arnel for a duck nine balls later.

Trott, who returned 2-33 in his 16 overs, then accounted for Bruce Martin, leaving just Thompson and last man Chris Martin to fend off the final 20 balls.

England managed to get Martin on strike for eight of those but, with Batty and Trott sending down the final overs, he held firm to ensure the series was drawn 0-0.