Day 1 report: Capped by a six down the ground straight into a spectator’s pint of beer, Daryl Mitchell’s unbeaten 81 helped New Zealand to 318-4 and a position of strength after Day 1 of the second test against England on Friday.
Mitchell put on an unbroken stand of 149 with Tom Blundell (67) to blunt England’s attack at Trent Bridge just as the hosts looked to be getting on top after putting New Zealand into bat.
While Blundell led a charmed life at times – he was dropped twice by Joe Root at first slip and sent another edge through the cordon – Mitchell was virtually impenetrable as he built on his century scored in a lost cause in the first test at Lord’s last week .
The highlight of his 147-ball knock that featured nine fours and two sixes was the mighty blow he delivered off the bowling of spinner Jack Leach which flew over the ropes and landed with a splash in a beer cup.
It drew cheers from the spectators all around but England’s players weren’t laughing.
Having reduced New Zealand to 169-4, England’s seamers appeared to have a New Zealand batting lineup missing Kane Williamson – absent after contracting the coronavirus – on the rack.
Henry Nicholls (30) and Devon Conway (46) departed in the space of three overs midway through the second session to catches behind off Ben Stokes and Jimmy Anderson, respectively.
The same bowlers had removed openers Tom Latham – the stand-in captain – and Will Young off successive balls after New Zealand’s solid start took the tourists to 84-0.
Young (47) edged Stokes to Zak Crawley at second slip and Anderson enticed a mishit pull shot from Latham that sailed into the hands of Matthew Potts at midwicket for 26.
The third-wicket partnership between Nicholls and Conway added 77 runs before Nicholls – dropped on 16 by Crawley in the slips – edged Stokes to wicketkeeper Ben Foakes.
Foakes had another simple catch to remove Conway following his inside edge off Anderson that nipped back off the seam, but Root’s catching left much to be desired.
Blundell should have departed for a duck, only for Root to put down a catch at first slip off Stokes. The same batsman was on 47 when he swipted at Leach and Root put down a much tougher chance as he dived to his right.
With about 20 minutes left in the day, Stuart Broad – having no luck on his home ground in Nottingham – roared in anger after seeing Blundell send an edge through Crawley at second slip and Jonny Bairstow at third slip.
“We would have taken that (at the start of the day),” Conway said of New Zealand’s total at stumps. “We were quite keen to bowl first but after losing the toss, putting on 300 was quite a good effort.
“The pitch didn’t do heaps. It was quite a nice surface. It played a lot better than it looked. “
England bowling coach Jon Lewis said the team had no regrets about not batting first.
“The toss was a good decision, and was an aggressive option,” Lewis said. “The captain and coach want us to be aggressive and that’s what we did. I thought there was good bowling in periods, and trying to bowl the opposition out as much as possible. “
Blundell will look to reach three figures after getting out for 96 in the second innings at Lord’s, where England won by five wickets to take the lead in the three-match series.
Mitchell and Blundell had a fifth-wicket stand of 195 in that test to give the tourists hope of a win, and they have given their team a platform early in the second match.
Already under pressure heading into Trent Bridge, the New Zealanders lost Williamson – their star player – after he tested positive for the coronavirus late Thursday and was forced to isolate.
“It was a bit unsettling but the boys bounced back well – there’s some good depth at the moment and guys can slot up the order,” Young said.
“Tom Latham as a captain is a great man, and a great leader. He’s experienced and a popular guy, too. He’s done it plenty of times before and it’s nice to have someone like that to call upon. “
With inputs from AP
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