SPORT

Onus is on Harris and Kiwis

Auckland March 29. Experienced allrounder Chris Harris was given the job of fixing New Zealand's batting woes as it looks to square the Test series against England in the final match starting here on Saturday.

Kiwi captain Stephen Fleming confirmed Harris, who hasn't played a Test since November 1999, would fill the pivotal No. 4 batting slot as the home side hopes to recover from 0-1 down in the third and final Test at Eden Park.

Harris, who has played 203 one-day internationals, looked to have finished his Test career at the start of the season but averaged 95.7 in the domestic first-class competition. He scored 82 for Canterbury against the tourists three weeks ago. He was called up for the drawn second Wellington Test as cover for injured spinner Daniel Vettori but didn't play.

Fleming was hoping Harris and fellow allrounder Andre Adams would spark New Zealand, which has been outplayed in the first two Tests against Nasser Hussain's men. The Kiwis' batting has been below par, with first innings totals of 147 and 218, and the injury-hit bowling attack has been wayward.

The recalled Daryl Tuffey is likely to play his eighth Test, with Ian Butler and Chris Drum to fight out for the 12th man duties.

Fleming said his team would force the pace to try to square the series, a result he said would finish a useful Test season. A weather-marred 0-0 series draw in Australia was followed by a 2-0 win at home over Bangladesh.

``If we lose I'd be extremely disappointed, because this is one series that I really wanted to win. We haven't played well enough to do that and now we've got to salvage the series.

``The pressure is on us, we usually perform well when our backs are against the wall. It's one last shot, and we need an aggressive approach to make things happen. Fleming believed a draw was unlikely, with the portable pitch likely to favour the side bowling first before flattening out into a good batting surface.

England completed its preparations with a game of football and a short net session on Friday, after an emotional memorial service for teammate Ben Hollioake. Captain Nasser Hussain wasn't due to return from Hollioake's funeral in Perth until late on Friday while batsman Mark Butcher was confined to bed with a cold but was expected to be available.

The teams:

New Zealand (from): Stephen Fleming (capt.), Mark Richardson, Lou Vincent, Chris Harris, Nathan Astle, Craig McMillan, Adam Parore, Daniel Vettori, Andre Adams, Daryl Tuffey, Chris Drum and Ian Butler.

England (likely): Nasser Hussain (capt.), Marcus Trescothick, Michael Vaughan, Mark Butcher, Graham Thorpe, Mark Ramprakash, Andrew Flintoff, James Foster, Ashley Giles, Andrew Caddick and Matthew Hoggard.

Umpires: Srinivas Venkataraghavan (Ind) and Doug Cowie (NZ). Match referee: Jackie Hendricks (West Indies). — AFP

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