MOUNT MAUNGANUI, New Zealand (AP)New Zealand captured the wicket of England captain Joe Root before lunch on Monday as it pushed hard for victory on the final day of the first cricket test.
England resumed on 55-3 in its second innings, still 207 runs behind New Zealand after trailing by 262 on the first innings. New Zealand made 615-9 in reply to England’s first innings of 353 to take command of the first match of the two-test series.
At lunch England was 98-4, still 164 runs behind, with Joe Denly 21 and Ben Stokes 13.
Root was the only man out in the morning session as England, scoring at fewer than two runs per over, added just 33 to its overnight total.
He had been tied down by the New Zealand bowlers, nudging his way to 11 from 51 balls, before making an error of judgment and being caught by Tom Latham at gully from the bowling of Colin de Grandhomme.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson put three fielders in catching positions on the off side, directly in the batsman’s eye-line and as a deterrent against the drive. Root wasn’t able to score off the front foot and when he received two short balls in succession from de Grandhomme he tried to guide the second behind point but picked out Latham who took the catch diving forward.
England came out Monday bent on survival but this loomed as a tough task on a difficult wicket. The pitch at Bay Oval had become a latticework of cracks, especially at the southern end, with the bounce variable and hard to predict.
Mostly the ball was keeping low, making decisive footwork imperative.
Left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner, who scored his maiden test century then claimed three wickets before stumps on the fourth day, remained the major danger, able to tease out variable bounce by landing in the footmarks.
Denly batted superbly throughout the morning and had been at the crease for more than 90 minutes by lunch. He couldn’t have hoped for a better partner in a crisis than Stokes, who has been England’s match-winner from improbable positions in the recent past.
He guided England to victory over New Zealand in the World Cup final at Lord’s in July and produced one of the finest test innings in history to set up a one-wicket win over Australia at Headingly during the recent Ashes series.
England’s position evokes memories of the third test of its 2012-2013 series in New Zealand when, with only four wickets standing at the start of the final day, it batted throughout the day to secure a draw.
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