England rip through New Zealand after Ben Stokes opts for attacking declaration
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James Anderson and Jack Leach split six wickets as England bowled themselves into a dominant position on day two of their series deciding second Test against New Zealand.
After another enterprising declaration from captain Ben Stokes, who pulled the plug on his side’s first innings at 435 for eight, the combination of seam and spin reduced the Black Caps to 138 for seven in Wellington.
Stokes’ eagerness to have two bites at the new ball, one either side of lunch, saw him wave his team in with Joe Root in full flow at 153 not out and it proved an inspired decision as Anderson made good on the gamble.
He knocked over key men Devon Conway and Kane Williamson in an awkward 35-minute period before the break and came back fresh to add Will Young at the start of the afternoon.
At 21 for three, New Zealand had exactly mirrored England’s score on the first morning. But where the tourists had Root and Harry Brook (186) to thank for a monster stand of 302, New Zealand could not stop the rot. With the pitch beginning to take turn, Leach picked off Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls and Daryl Mitchell.
All three were caught in close, with Ollie Pope contributing a couple of superb one-handers under the helmet to make his mark on the game. By the time Stuart Broad got in on the act with a caught and bowled, the hosts were left thanking the rain that brought an early end to proceedings.
But that also meant more rest for England’s seamers and, with a towering lead of 297 in the bank, the follow-on could come into play if England choose to force the issue.
England came out full of intent in front of a sold out crowd at the Basin Reserve, adding 120 runs at a cost of five wickets. Root did most of the heavy lifting, resuming on 101 overnight and adding a further 52 from just 42 balls, including three sixes.
The first of those came from his fourth ball of the morning, reverse ramping Tim Southee over the ropes at third man to make his intentions crystal clear. That shot took his fourth-wicket stand with Brook into triple-hundred territory, but the younger man was gone a few moments later. Matt Henry held a rapid return chance, Brook middling a drive straight back at the bowler.
That ended his hopes of toppling father David’s family record of 210, made in the Airedale and Wharfedale League in 2001, but his status as a major force in Test cricket appears fixed after just six caps.
Stokes was next up, contributing the kind of frantic cameo that has become his stock in trade as captain. He lasted 28 balls, made 27 runs, hit five boundaries and could easily have been out three times.
His end came when he tried to flog a difficult ball from Neil Wagner over the infield and slogged to mid-off. Ben Foakes managed an even less graceful exit, stumped for a duck after toppling face first while facing Michael Bracewell’s off-breaks.
Amid all that Root timed his run to 150, for the 14th time in Tests, ushering the end of the innings with a flourish for four. That left time enough for seven overs and two cheap wickets.
Anderson needed just four balls to deliver the goods, shaping one away from the left-handed Conway and taking a thin edge that neither he nor wicketkeeper Foakes appeared to detect. But the slips were convinced there was a sound and DRS confirmed their suspicions of a thin nick.
Williamson was next to go, wafting lazily at a delivery he should have left to take his series return to 10 runs from three attempts.
After a 40-minute break Anderson continued his outstanding sequence work with the new ball, producing a pearl that scraped the edge of the blameless Will Young as it zipped back in. New Zealand fought hard to avoid outright collapse but by now Leach had enough to work with as he set up camp at one end.
Latham (35) was caught at slip after the third umpire pored over replays and determined the ball had hit the wristband of his glove before ballooning to slip. Leach’s next two came with big assists from Pope, who pounced to grasp Nicholls’ reverse sweep at short-leg, then showed even quicker reactions to pluck Mitchell’s nudge forward from close proximity at silly point.
Ollie Robinson bowled an outstanding but luckless spell of eight overs for six runs before Broad took the seventh, accepting an easy return catch from Bracewell.
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