Wellington: A bit of drift into the northerly wind and bite and bounce that New Zealand's Bruce Martin extracted from the Basin Reserve pitch suggests that England spinner Monty Panesar could come into his own when the second Test between the two sides resumes on Saturday.
England are in the box seat after the first two days, having been dismissed shortly before tea on Friday for an imposing 465, courtesy of a counter-attacking 82 from Matt Prior that wrested control of the game back for the visitors.
Stuart Broad and his fellow fast bowlers James Anderson and Steven Finn then worked over New Zealand's top order, with Broad taking two wickets in two balls to reduce the home side to 66 for three by stumps.
Despite the penetration exhibited by England's fast-bowling trio late on Friday, both Prior and Martin agreed the pitch, while still a good one to bat on, could provide the England left arm spinner with some decent opportunities.
"The wicket has changed enough to show that it's going to deteriorate," Prior told reporters. "It spun a little bit today as well so that's good news for Monty and there's still that little bit of pace and carry, as you've seen.
Prior, who took the match by the scruff of the neck in the second session on Friday to force it along after New Zealand had reduced the visitors to 374 for 7, added that it was imperative for England to stick to their game plan.
"There's plenty there for us to work with. It's just about getting our processes right, making sure our skills are right and our basics are right and not chasing the game too much.
"When you get in a position like this, you can try and force it. It's still a good batting wicket, but making sure that we stick to our processes will be very important for us tomorrow."
Left-armer Martin, who enjoys Panesar's exuberance and joyous celebrations less so now he is playing against him, also felt the England spinner could be a factor over the next few days.
"It's a pretty nice wicket out there," he said. "I think it'll start turning a little bit more the next couple of days, which is going to bring Monty in to the game a bit more.
"I haven't played on many turning wickets this year. So I was quite excited when I saw a couple go past KP's (Kevin Pietersen) bat early on Friday. "But there's enough there, it's quite slow so it's hard work but I think he could be dangerous, especially later on in the last few days."
New Zealand were "in a little pickle" Martin said in terms of the match situation, but there was confidence the side could battle back into it to ensure they did not go to the final Test in Auckland next week one-nil down.
"We've got some pretty good batsman to come and we'll just keep scrapping," Martin said. "That's what Kiwis pride themselves on is being scrappers and fighters so we'll give them everything we've got."
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