× Cricket NewsTips and TricksPrivacy PolicyTerms And Conditions
Subscribe To Our Newsletter

England faces New Zealand in a fightback, but Stokes' side is strong on day two

ENGLAND were prevented from seizing complete control of the First Test by a brilliant century from Kiwi wicketkeeper Tom Blundell.

The visitors ended day two with a 98-run lead and eight second wickets standing. Ben Stokes will be confident of forcing another victory.

Ben Stokes celebrates after taking the wicket of Devon Conway

Tom Blundell hit a brilliant century

They lost openers Ben Duckett and Zak Crawley during an eventful final session batting under lights against the pink ball.

Stuart Broad even appeared for the first time as the self-styled “Nighthawk” – who in this era of “Bazball” is replacing the traditional role of nightwatchman and comes out swinging instead of blocking.

Broad aimed a mighty heave at his second delivery, which skied up and landed safely between three fielders who all left the catch for each other. Then Broad was struck on the helmet, causing a ten-minute delay.

But the veteran bowler survived and will be hoping to have some fun when he resumes his innings on day three.

Earlier, Broad and Jimmy Anderson early took their combined tally of wickets while playing together to 1,001 – equalling the all-time record set by Aussie duo Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath.

England would have been virtually out of sight but for Blundell’s innings of 138. He came in with New Zealand tottering at 83-5 and marshalled affairs so successfully that his team ended up with 306 all out – a first innings deficit of just 19 runs.

Blundell batted with calmness and skill and dominated a tenth-wicket partnership of 59 so impressively that No.11 Blair Tickner scored just three.

At the start of day two, Jack Leach held a juggling catch at fine leg when nightwatchman Neil Wagner had scored 11 – but Broad had overstepped for a no-ball.


Stuart Broad will be hoping to have some fun on day three

Wagner continued to frustrate England with a couple of sixes before Broad coaxed him into chipping a catch to mid-on.

When Daryl Mitchell was lbw to Ollie Robinson offering no shot, New Zealand were 83-5, still 242 behind and in big trouble.

But Devon Conway and Blundell oversaw a fine recovery.

Conway was looking problematic for England – his repertoire included a straight six off Joe Root’s spin – but then flapped tamely to square leg for 77 during one of Stokes’ bouncer barrages.

Captain Stokes was trying all manner of tactical innovations and unusual field placings as the pink ball softened and offered little or no spin or seam movement.

Michael Bracewell was struck on the helmet by one of Stokes’ many short balls and, soon after, the Kiwi chipped Leach straight to Stokes at mid-on.

The Blackcaps were 182-7 and England again appeared destined for a substantial lead.

But Scott Kuggeleijn helped Blundell in a half-century stand for the eighth wicket, including a whack for six over mid-wicket off Leach, before the impressive Robinson penetrated his defences.

Robinson struck again with a full toss that Tim Southee managed only to nail directly to Duckett, who jumped and held the catch at deep square leg.

Blundell found an unlikely ally in Test debutant Tickner and took boundaries where possible and manipulated the strike with singles towards the end of overs.

Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes missed a chance diving to his right off Stokes when Blundell had scored 117.

Blundell eventually perished attempting a slog against Anderson, which skied in the air and nestled safely in the bowler’s hands. That was the wicket that equalled the record of Warne and McGrath.