Comfortable for the Kiwis

New Zealand got by without captain Daniel Vettori as they wrapped up an unexpectedly-comfortable victory at Chelmsford yesterday.

New Zealand got by without captain Daniel Vettori as they wrapped up an unexpectedly-comfortable victory at Chelmsford yesterday.

The tourists began the final day as marginal second favourites in what looked sure to be a tight contest - but ground out an encouraging outcome from their penultimate warm-up match before the first Test against England at Lord's.

For Essex and England, a stubborn first half-century of the summer from Alastair Cook (57) was the consolation as the hosts descended from a start-of-play 45 for one to 200 all out in pursuit of 293.

For the Kiwis, it must have been heartening to learn they could break a strong county top order without the services of the injured Vettori as captain or premier spinner.

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In his absence - with the split finger in his bowling hand also ruling him out of this week's match against England Lions - an attritional effort from an all-seam attack did the trick.

Cook began the final day with 21 to his name and needed almost an hour to top his previous season's best of 27.

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Second-wicket partner Tom Westley drove Mills aerially to cover, and then Ravi Bopara and captain Mark Pettini went within an over of one another for the addition of one run.

Bopara was unlucky to nick an innocuous delivery from Jacob Oram down the leg-side, and Pettini fell for the second time in the match to a very good inswinger - this one from Michael Mason, beating a forward push to bowl him through the gate.

Cook kept his composure and gradually began to middle the ball, saving his best shot to bring up a 114-ball 50 with a cover-drive off Mason.

His innings ended disappointingly with a tame drive at Mason (three for 36) into the hands of mid-off.

It could yet prove a summer launchpad for Cook - but as far as Essex were concerned, with his departure went a last realistic chance of inflicting defeat on the tourists.

When James Foster popped a catch up to gully without scoring Essex had lost five wickets for 33 runs on the way to 100 for six.

Ryan ten Doeschate and James Middlebrook salvaged some respectability in a 58-run seventh-wicket stand.

But it was stretching a point to suggest they were involved in anything more than damage limitation, and Ian O'Brien saved a good one for Middlebrook which came back between bat and pad to clip the top of middle and leg-stump.

Ten Doeschate then got too greedy against part-time leg-spinner Aaron Redmond and skied a catch into the leg-side ring, which was collected by wicket-keeper and stand-in skipper Brendon McCullum.

From that point, the game was up.

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