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Black Caps requiring batting fightback after England bowlers strike

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 22 Nov 2019, 11:01AM

Black Caps requiring batting fightback after England bowlers strike

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 22 Nov 2019, 11:01AM

Early on day two of the first test, the Black Caps were rather pleased - their bowlers had done the job to wrestle them back into the contest against England.

Come the end of the day, though, and it was the New Zealand batsmen left needing to produce a fightback.

A 25-minute spell saw four England wickets tumble as the Black Caps stormed back into the contest in Mount Maunganui, but their hard work was somewhat undone late in the day, as England claimed four wickets of their own before stumps to regain control.

The Black Caps will resume on day three on 144-4, with Henry Nicholls unbeaten on 26 and BJ Watling on six, trailing England by 209 runs after they had capitulated on a sunny morning at Bay Oval.

From 277-4, England collapsed to 295-8, and while some resistance from Jos Buttler and Jack Leach got the visitors to 353, the Black Caps were given a sniff thanks to Tim Southee's 4-88.

To win, the Black Caps are likely going to need to score at least 400, and follow that up with a good bowling performance – assuming they are unlikely to be keen on chasing a big score batting fourth. The draw is still a realistic option – in fact, all three (or knowing these two teams, four) results are still possible, something that wasn't a certainty when Ben Stokes and Ollie Pope started the day in style.

The pair had added 74 for the fifth wicket without too much trouble – Pope successfully reviewing an lbw dismissal to Colin de Grandhomme – but after a day one performance defined by patience, England quickly lost their cool.

Stokes was the first, flashing at a ball from Southee and sending it to slip, where Ross Taylor made amends for his drop the night before by – 28 runs later – snagging a right-handed screamer above his head to send Stokes back, nine runs short of a century.

Pope too got lured into attacking a Southee outswinger, slicing at a wide delivery as Watling took a routine catch, and the next ball Sam Curran was trapped lbw by an inswinger. Jofra Archer survived the hat-trick ball, but two balls later guided Trent Boult straight to Southee at second slip, and in quick time, England had lost four wickets for 18 runs.

Tim Southee celebrates the wicket of Ollie Pope. Photo / Photosport
Tim Southee celebrates the wicket of Ollie Pope. Photo / Photosport

Buttler and Leach added 52 for the ninth wicket to stop the rot – Buttler being caught in the deep by Mitchell Santner, who had to leap over the hoardings to make the catch after nearly being caught unawares signing autographs for fans – but after starting the day at 241-4, the Black Caps bowlers walked off pleased with their efforts on a pitch which still favours the batsmen.

However, New Zealand's top order didn't make the most of it. Jeet Raval – who had earlier dropped Buttler – continued his poor run of late, surviving multiple chances including an lbw review on 10, before some ungainly slogging off the bowling of Leach ended with him holing out to mid-wicket for an ugly 19.

Having solidly seen off Archer and Stuart Broad – wicketless in a combined 24 overs – it was the rest of English attack doing the damage. Tom Latham had earlier departed lbw to Curran for just eight – a strange dismissal in which he seemed to have got bat on ball, but didn't realise – while Taylor (25) played an unnecessary pull shot to Stokes and picked out deep midwicket.

Still, Kane Williamson remained, and looked his usual fluent self. He raced through to 40 at nearly a run-a-ball rate, the back-foot punch through the off-side the pick of his usual repertoire, and while he slowed down as England turned the screws slightly, he still passed 50, for the 51st time in tests.

The next ball, though, and Curran found some extra bounce, surprising the skipper, who could only fend it to Stokes at second slip, reducing the Black Caps to 127-4.

Nicholls copped a nasty blow on the helmet from Archer in the day's penultimate over but reached stumps after bravely fighting off another short ball-barrage – displaying attributes the Black Caps will need in spades when they take strike tomorrow.

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