Cricket: New Zealand on top after England batsmen flop

DUNEDIN, New Zealand (AFP) - England's powerful batting line-up was skittled for just 167 by New Zealand on Thursday as the unfancied Black Caps took a firm grip on the opening Test in Dunedin.

England's batsmen self-destructed in two nightmare sessions on a tame pitch, offering a succession of rash shots in the face of disciplined bowling from debutant Bruce Martin and Neil Wagner, who each bagged four wickets.

In reply, New Zealand made the most of batting-friendly conditions at the University Oval to plunder 131 runs without loss at stumps, with Hamish Rutherford, also making his debut, unbeaten on 77 and Peter Fulton 46 not out.

After the first day's play was abandoned due to bad weather, England lasted just 55 overs against the eighth-ranked team in Test cricket, Jonathan Trott top-scoring with 45 on a day when the tourists' big names failed to fire.