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NZ make solid start in series-deciding test

Peter Fulton & Hamish Rutherford gave New Zealand a solid start to the third test against England.

File: Peter Fulton & Hamish Rutherford gave New Zealand a solid start to the third test against England. Picture: AFP

AUCKLAND - Peter Fulton and Hamish Rutherford gave New Zealand a solid start to the series-deciding third test against England as they guided the hosts to 79 for one at lunch on the first day at Eden Park on Friday.

Fulton, normally the more circumspect of the pair, was 41 not out, while Rutherford was dismissed for 37 less than five minutes before lunch. Kane Williamson was on nought at the break.

England captain Alistair Cook had earlier won his first toss of the test series and chose to bowl first on a drop-in pitch that showed green tinges and promised more bounce than the pitches in Dunedin and Wellington.

Cook's fast-bowling trio of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Steven Finn produced some anxious moments, with Fulton nicking an Anderson delivery just wide of third slip when on 22 without loss.

The tall right-hander Fulton settled, however, and was comfortable with anything full on middle and leg stump, whipping two deliveries to the square-leg boundary.

Fulton also sent a top edge off Broad flying down to fine leg for the first six of the innings on a ground primarily configured for rugby, with short straight boundaries.

Rutherford effortlessly belted two straight sixes in the next over from Monty Panesar, but was dismissed when he chased a wide delivery from Finn without moving his feet, nicking to Cook at first slip.

England batsman Kevin Pietersen was ruled out of the match on Wednesday with a knee injury that had bothered him before the first test, allowing Jonny Bairstow to come in at number six and Ian Bell and Joe Root to move up a spot in the order.

New Zealand named an unchanged side for the third consecutive test, however, meaning no place for pace bowler Doug Bracewell who had recovered from a cut foot sustained when clearing up after a house party.

The first two tests in Dunedin and Wellington were plagued by rain and ended in draws.