Plunkett and Mahmood impress
Liam Plunkett and Sajid Mahmood shared seven wickets between them as England Lions dismissed New Zealand Cricket Emerging Players for one short of their own total to ensure the two-day match was drawn.
Resuming on 12 without loss, the hosts reached 277 thanks to half-centuries from Josh Brodie and Greg Hay.
Plunkett and Mahmood did most of the bowling for the vistors, but were rewarded for their efforts with figures of 4-76 and 3-58 respectively.
There were also wickets for Gareth Batty and Robbie Joseph, who was added to the side after Ravi Bopara and Amjad Khan were called up to the full England squad.
Wickets fell at regular intervals as the Emerging Players side failed to put together any partnerships of note after the loss of opener Tim McIntosh with the score on 59.
The Lions were left to bat for 20 overs before the match ended in an inevitable draw, with Joe Denly falling for a pair after his duck in the first innings.
Jonathan Trott was moved up the order to open alongside Denly, and fared better, scoring 41 not out in the Lions’ total of 86 for two.
Luke Wright, who had also been promoted, was the other wicket to fall, bowled by Brandon Hiini, before Samit Patel contributed 41 not out at better than a run a ball, in an unbeaten half-century partnership with Trott.
That ensured batsmen and bowlers were all given a satisfactory workout before the Lions travel to Queenstown for the first Test starting on Sunday, giving captain Robert Key cause for optimism.
“I think they (Emerging Players) probably had the better of the conditions, the conditions were better when they bowled and the pitch was easier to bat on when they batted but we still managed to come through,” he said.
Key was particularly pleased with the contribution of Plunkett and Mahmood, neither of whom have played for England in two years, who were the outstanding bowlers on a wicket which appeared more suitable to the slower bowlers.
“When they had played for England neither of them had played much senior cricket and they have a lot more guile and experience now and have started very well on this tour,” he said.
“They were able to adjust to the conditions nicely. The pitch was a bit flat when we bowled and required a different length so it was very encouraging for us.”
Emerging Kent seamer Joseph also impressed his captain, claiming 1-31 after only recently arriving in New Zealand.
“He bowled very well and looked very good,” added county team-mate Key. “He’s been playing cricket for the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean, though, so he’s probably had more cricket than any of us so far this winter.”