England in command of first test as ‘Bazball’ hits New Zealand

A swashbuckling England raced to a sporting total with the bat then crashed through New Zealand’s top order as “Bazball” made its pink ball debut on day one of the first test in Mount Maunganui on Thursday.

New Zealand were in trouble at 37 for three at stumps in reply to England’s declared first innings total of 325 for nine at Bay Oval, with seven wickets tumbling in a frantic evening session.

Opener Devon Conway was 18 not out and nightwatchman Neil Wagner was on four, with James Anderson grabbing two wickets and Ollie Robinson one.

Tim Southee won the toss and sent England in to bat on a green-tinged wicket but the home captain may have rued the call at the end of the night with his team trailing by 288 runs.

Quick-fire half-centuries by Ben Duckett (84) and Harry Brook (89) took the wind out of the hosts’ sails and set the platform for a sporting declaration by Ben Stokes.

Having seen four of his batsmen fall at short order when night fell, Stokes could see similar carnage unfolding for New Zealand.

“The best time to bowl is under these lights,” Brook told reporters of the declaration after only 58.2 overs.

“I think you can extract the most amount of swing and seam, so why not expose their top order to that?”

The home batsmen survived four overs of probing swing from Anderson and Stuart Broad but Robinson struck with his third ball to remove Tom Latham for one, the opener caught by a diving Ollie Pope at short leg.

Anderson then had Conway edge straight to second slip but Zak Crawley put down the easiest of chances to reprieve the opener on nine.
Kane Williamson (6) was not so lucky, rapped on the pads by an Anderson ball that angled in. Umpire Aleem Dar ignored the lbw appeal but it was confirmed on review.

Crawley later made amends by catching Henry Nicholls for four to secure Anderson’s second wicket. It was an impressive display from the evergreen Anderson but earlier in the day it was the new boys starring.

Opener Duckett raced to 50 with 36 balls and appeared destined for a century but he ended up driving straight to Michael Bracewell at short mid-off, gifting New Zealand’s debutant quick Blair Tickner his first test wicket.

Duckett and Pope got England off to a rollicking start, the tourists smashing 134 in the first session for the loss of only Crawley (4) and Joe Root (14).

Duckett needed only 68 balls for his 84 and Pakistan tormentor Brook continued the T20-style batting, making his 89 from 81 deliveries. The 23-year-old Yorkshireman has now racked up an astonishing 569 runs, including three centuries, in his seven innings in test cricket. His partnership with wicketkeeper Ben Foakes (38) ensured England racked up another 145 runs in the second session, smacking down the hosts after they had rallied with three wickets.

Paceman Wagner finished with 4-82 and took his 250th wicket, recovering strongly after a wayward first session. Southee (2-71) bowled with customary discipline but all four of New Zealand’s seamers conceded above five runs an over.

Paceman Scott Kuggeleijn, New Zealand’s second test debutant, took two wickets and dismissed Stokes for 19 when the skipper miscued a pull shot straight to Latham in close.

England, who have won nine out of their last 10 tests since their attacking ‘Bazball’ revolution was launched by captain Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum, are bidding to win their first test series in New Zealand since 2008.

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