Black Caps duo to the rescue again in third test versus England at Headingley


Third test, day one at Headingley: New Zealand 225-5 (D Mitchell 78 not out, T Blundell 45 no; S Broad 2-45, J Leach 2-75) v England.

If you’re a Black Caps fan who woke in the middle of the night, checked what was happening in the third test and wondered if you were viewing a replay – you’re forgiven.

At stumps on day one of the final test in the series, New Zealand were 225-5 after winning the toss and batting first at Headingley.

As it has all series, New Zealand’s top order crumbled, leaving Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell tasked once more with salvaging what they could in their sixth-wicket partnership.

Mitchell was unbeaten at stumps needing another 22 runs for his third century in as many tests while Blundell was with him on 45 as they added an unbroken stand of 102 to again limit England’s momentum.

The Black Caps also suffered a horrible piece of luck when Henry Nicholls was bizarrely caught for 19 after his aerially-driven shot hit the bat of Mitchell at the non-striker’s end and went to the hands of England fielder Alex Lees, standing 15 metres away from Mitchell at mid-off.

Earlier, opener Tom Latham’s horror series continued as he edged Stuart Broad behind in the opening over to immediately put the tourists – 2-0 down in the series – under pressure.

The left-hander has managed just 45 runs in five innings and looks far from his usual assured self.

Opening partner Will Young had reached 20 off 42 balls and with NZ 35-1 just before drinks, the visitors looked like they’d recovered usefully, but Young’s bat clipped his pad when facing the first ball from left-arm spinner Jack Leach, resulting in him falling lbw.

Captain Kane Williamson had some shaky moments – to his first ball, England employed a leg slip for Broad and the NZ captain glanced a ball off his gloves just wide of wicketkeeper Ben Foakes diving to his left.

But soon after the skipper had reached his best score in his last five bats in tests (31), he was undone by the old one-two combination from Broad, who first troubled Williamson with a big inswinger and had him caught behind next ball to one that didn’t change line but tempted the right-hander into a push he quickly regretted.

England felt they had Nicholls trapped lbw in the 30th over by Matthew Potts when the left-hander had made just four but they didn’t get an affirmative answer from either umpire Richard Kettleborough nor TV umpire Aleem Dar.

Nicholls battled on, limping to 19 from 99 balls before perishing to his best-timed shot of his innings.

However, Mitchell, maker of centuries in the two previous tests, was unflustered and got the support he’s come to expect from Blundell.

New Zealand's captain Kane Williamson reacts as he walks off the field after losing his wicket during the first day of the third test against England.

Rui Vieira/AP

New Zealand’s captain Kane Williamson reacts as he walks off the field after losing his wicket during the first day of the third test against England.

Mitchell was fortunate to survive an lbw shout against Potts, given not out by umpire Marais Erasmus, when on eight and NZ 97-4.

But Stokes decided not to review – possibly hesitant after losing a review on the Nicholls appeal – and replays showed Mitchell had indeed been trapped in front.

Blundell was given out when on 31 to a ‘catch’ by Foakes off Joe Root’s offspin by Erasmus, but the wicketkeeper-batter confidently asked for a review which showed he hadn’t edged it.

Stokes, who was ill earlier this week and was battling with a knee injury at the end of the second test, didn’t bowl while debutant quick Jamie Overton got his maiden test wicket when Devon Conway (26) edged a full ball onto his stumps.

At the toss, New Zealand named a side featuring left-arm quick Neil Wagner for the first time in the series, as Matt Henry was dropped despite the absence of the injured Kyle Jamieson, while there was again no room for left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel, who will finish the three tests having bowled only two overs in the first game at Lord’s.

The big moment

Given what an obstacle Mitchell has become, you’d think England would have been desperate for a second opinion on their unrequited lbw appeal.

But the hosts haven’t been great with their use of the DRS and erred again by missing their chance to send Mitchell packing before he barely got going.

Best with the bat

Guess!

Mitchell did as he has all series – mixed resolute defence with judicious but punishing attack. He was fortunate not to be given out leg before but didn’t let that close call rattle him.

He continued to have the better of Leach, who bowled a surprising 30 overs on day one in Leeds, by combining forward defence, sweeps and a few majestic lofted straight drives.

England's Stuart Broad celebrates the dismissal of New Zealand's Tom Latham during the first day of the third cricket test at Headingley in Leeds.

Rui Vieira/AP

England’s Stuart Broad celebrates the dismissal of New Zealand’s Tom Latham during the first day of the third cricket test at Headingley in Leeds.

Best with the ball

Stuart Broad displayed plenty of guile to remove Latham and Williamson, two usual cornerstones of NZ’s batting.

He took advantage of the hesitancy in the Black Caps top order to entice edges on a day one when the Headingley wicket didn’t offer much to the new-ball bowlers, ending with 2-45 off 17 overs.

NZ Cricket

Black Caps allrounder Jimmy Neesham searching for new team after leaving Wellington.

The big picture

Same as the old picture – England got the upper hand after NZ failed to set a platform with the bat.

That advantage would have been massive had Mitchell and Blundell not shown the same resolute spirit they’d displayed at Lord’s and Trent Bridge. It’s possible a continuation on the first session of day two could give NZ an edge, but their over-reliance on the pair doesn’t inspire confidence.



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