New Zealand 192 for 6 (Watling 77*, Southee 13*) trail England 307 (Bairstow 101, Wood 52, Southee 6-62, Boult 4-87) by 115 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
BJ Watling battled through to the close, after Colin de Grandhomme had battled against his natural aggressive instincts, as New Zealand clawed their way back into contention in the second Test at Wellington, after a throwback performance from Stuart Broad with the new ball looked, at 36 for 5 in the 20th over of their innings, to have cracked their resolve entirely.
Broad claimed three of those wickets at the top of the innings, then later returned to break a dogged and vital sixth-wicket stand of 142, as de Grandhomme flicked fatally outside off and fell for 72 from 151 balls – his longest Test innings in terms of balls faced.
Watling, however, endured to the close – becoming the second wicketkeeper in this Test to haul his team off the canvas, following Jonny Bairstow‘s efforts on the first day (which were rewarded by a fifth Test century when England completed their first innings in the first half hour of the day). By the time bad light brought the day’s action to a premature close, Watling was firmly entrenched on 77 not out from 196 balls, another example of his under-rated brawling qualities, and how his team had needed them.
New Zealand’s predicament had not been quite as dire as the 27 for 9 that England themselves had registered at Auckland last week, but it was a decidedly rocky position all the same. Broad had spent much of his downtime since the Australia tour working on his wrist position in the nets at Trent Bridge and, from the outset, he bowled a full and threatening length, notably quicker than many of his lacklustre spells during the Ashes, and looked set to get on one of his trademark ‘rolls’ until Watling and de Grandhomme found new depths of resolve.
New Zealand’s problems began in the second over of their innings when Tom Latham strode on to the front foot and aimed a hard-handed drive at a ball that nipped off the seam and grazed through to Bairstow for a duck. And with the first ball of his fourth over, Broad added the key scalp of Ross Taylor for 2, whose wild swishing drive to another full-length ball outside off ended up in the hands of Alastair Cook at first slip.
In between whiles, Anderson made his mark as well, luring Jeet Raval into a loose drive to Bairstow for 5 before, two balls later, pinning Kane Williamson on the front pad with a big inswinger, only for New Zealand’s captain to be reprieved by the most marginal of umpire’s calls.
It didn’t matter greatly, however, as DRS was soon back working in their favour. Henry Nicholls, a centurion at Auckland, was nailed in front of middle by a big inducker from Broad, and sent on his way via a review for 0. And then, having taken lunch on a perilous 32 for 4, New Zealand’s situation reached its nadir when Williamson flicked at a leg-side delivery in Anderson’s second over after the break and was caught behind for 22.
After that, however, New Zealand found a means to battle back. De Grandhomme quickly realised that attack was the best form of defence in such a situation, and though Mark Wood was cranking up the pace in an encouragingly rapid spell, he took it upon himself to launch a counterattack with three pulled fours in the space of four deliveries.
Watling was never remotely as comfortable in taking on the short ball, and on 10, he was slammed in the helmet by a savage lifter as Wood switched his line to round the wicket. But the blow did nothing to shake his resolve, as he bedded in for the remainder of the session to reach 40 not out.
The post-tea session was a cagey, low-scoring affair, as England rang their changes, and attempted to lure a mistake out of two increasingly well-set batsman, with a ball that was losing its venom and lateral movement with every over. Wood, in particular, opted for the Neil Wagner approach of pounding the middle of the pitch and testing the batsman’s patience and resolve, and though he went wicketless in his 17.5 overs, he looked energetic and match-fit, both of which were big pluses for England after his year of ankle problems.
De Grandhomme, who had brought up his fifty shortly before the interval, resisted the temptation to continue his fusillade of boundaries, in spite of his reputation as a compulsive hooker – although he did lash Anderson through the covers when he offered some rare width before taking on Broad’s bouncer with another slightly top-edged pull for four through square leg.
But it was Watling who grew the most in stature as his innings wore on. In particular, he found fluency and footwork against the spin of Jack Leach, who went wicketless on his first day of bowling in Test cricket, but impressed nonetheless with his flight, accuracy and variety. Twice he swept Leach with authority over the leg-side – one of his blows flew clean over the ropes for the only six of the day – and Anderson also felt the full authority of his strokeplay with a beautifully timed drill through the covers.
But Broad, who was left unused for an hour and a half either side of the tea break, eventually returned to break the crucial stand. It took him two deliveries to do so – a tempter in the channel outside off lured de Grandhomme into a fatal drive and he had already thrown his head back in self-disgust before the ball had nestled in Bairstow’s gloves.
Tim Southee endured to the close as New Zealand moved to within 115 runs of England’s first-innings total. As had been the case on the first day, the momentum had shifted to the batting team by stumps, but their top-order incisions meant that England were still very much in control of the contest.