MOUNT MAUNGANUI: New Zealand were left ruing a day of missed opportunities as England battled to 241-4 at the close of the opening day’s play in the first-ever Test at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui on Thursday.
England all-rounder Ben Stokes provided some late fireworks, which included hitting Trent Boult for four successive boundaries, to finish on 67 not out, leaving his side well placed to extend their advantage on Friday.
Stokes’s last four of that run came after the ball burst through the hands of Ross Taylor at first slip after he reacted late to the ball flying towards him.
“We created a lot of chances which didn’t go our way but they showed a lot of patience, took their time and batted pretty well,” New Zealand pace bowler Neil Wagner told reporters. “Anything we threw at them they played quite well, at times they had a bit of luck, but sometimes you need a bit of luck.”
The missed chance on Stokes was one of three gilt-edged opportunities New Zealand wasted on a day when their bowlers toiled on a pitch that offered them little assistance.
“He’s a special talent. He’s a bit of a freak at times,” Wagner said after Stokes clubbed his bouncers four times to the boundary. “Everyone wants to get him out because you know what an important wicket it is... but that’s my thing, we always try and strive to get the good players out.”
Even so New Zealand were still able to put pressure on the tourists.
Taylor and second slip Tom Latham had let a thick edge from Rory Burns fly between them when the opener was on 37. He went on to make 52 before being caught behind off all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme.
Burns, who played and missed several times during the middle session, also appeared to get a thin edge through to wicket-keeper B.J. Watling on the final delivery of the fifth over of the day when on 10 and England were 14-0.
There was a half-hearted appeal but captain Kane Williamson chose not to review, even though technology suggested Burns did nick the ball.
But England captain Joe Root endured a torrid period as he took 21 balls to get off the mark with a two and then wafted at a wide next delivery from Wagner and was caught behind.
Wagner felt New Zealand were still well in the game heading into day two.
By no stretch have they got away from us, if we can come back in the morning and get a couple of early wickets, we’ll be in a really good position,” he said.
The second match of the two-Test series takes place in Hamilton from Nov 29.
ENGLAND (1st Innings):
R.J. Burns c Watling b de Grandhomme 52
D.P. Sibley c Taylor b de Grandhomme 22
J.L. Denly c Watling b Southee 74
J.E. Root c Southee b Wagner 2
B.A. Stokes not out 67
O.J. Pope not out 18
EXTRAS (B-1, LB-4, NB-1) 6
TOTAL (for four wkts, 90 overs) 241
FALL OF WKTS: 1-52, 2-113, 3-120, 4-203. TO BAT: J.C. Buttler, S.M. Curran, J.C. Archer, S.C.J. Broad, M.J. Leach.
BOWLING (to-date): Boult 22-6-61-0; Southee 21-6-46-1; de Grandhomme 19-5-28-2 (1nb); Wagner 23-4-77-1; Santner 5-0-24-0.
NEW ZEALAND: J.A. Raval, T.W.M. Latham, K.S. Williamson, L.R.P.L. Taylor, H.M. Nicholls, B.J. Watling, C. de Grandhomme, M.J. Santner, T.G. Southee, N. Wagner, TA.. Boult. UMPIRES: H.D.P.K. Dharmasena (Sri Lanka) and B.N.J. Oxenford (Australia). TV UMPIRE: P. Wilson (Australia). MATCH REFEREE: J. Srinath (India).
Published in Dawn, November 22nd, 2019