England 354-7 (after day one)
Ben Stokes and Joe Root were England's star men on an entertaining day one of the first Test match against New Zealand at Lord's. They ensured that the early wobbles from the top order batsmen were remedied long before the close of play, despite both men just missing out on deserved centuries. Jos Buttler added to the home nation's momentum through the afternoon session before he too was dismissed right at the end of the day's play. England look to be handily placed on 354-7 overnight with Moeen Ali unbeaten and fast approaching his half-century.
'The Black Caps' seem determined to make the most of their limited opportunities in the two-Test series afforded to them by their hosts. Many in the ground questioned their decision to put England into bat first, but it was perhaps indicative of the positivity that skipper Brendon McCullum exudes in his desire to keep the game moving along.
Early rewards for NZ
Their bravado seemed to pay off handsomely at first, as their much lauded bowling pairing of Tim Southee and Trent Boult seemed to fully justify their captain's confidence. England were soon reduced to 30-4 with many critics no doubt 'calling' for Kevin Pietersen's inclusion into the side once again.
Adam Lyth's first innings in Test #Cricket didn't last long, the Yorkshire player feathering a catch behind off the bowling of Southee for just 7 runs. His county teammate Gary Ballance fared no better, nicking one to the slips off Boult after scoring just a single. Alastair Cook had seemed positive if a little streaky up to that point at the other end, but he too fell when attempting a hook shot off Matt Henry for 16. Ian Bell hardly troubled the scorers as he was clean bowled by Henry, a beautiful ball that straightened the batsman up before hitting his off stump. Bell had scored a measly 1 run and England were on the ropes.
Stokes decided that offence was the best remedy and took the attack to the opposition. It seemed to rub off on Root, as the pair switched into something resembling one-day mode to ease the pressure on the scoreboard. A wonderful partnership of 161 for the fifth wicket between the two men brought the home side back into the reckoning. Sadly for Stokes he could not quite reach his century, being bowled by Mark Craig on 92 off just 94 balls. Yet he had brought his country back into the contest and will have done his Test future no harm at all in the process.
Root falls just short of three figures
Root continued to prosper as he was joined at the crease by wicketkeeper Buttler. They put on another 60 runs with no apparent concerns, until with his century beckoning, Root fell agonisingly on 98. It was a third wicket for Henry as he more than ably backed up Southee and Boult's efforts for the Kiwis.
Buttler out at the close
Buttler and Moeen looked set to add the icing to England's cake as they shared a century stand for the seventh wicket, until Buttler was trapped LBW by Boult on 67. It had been another highly promising knock by the Lancashire batsman, a mixture of patience and fine strokeplay.
Prospects for day two
England will hope to push on towards 400 on day two and then hope that James Anderson and Stuart Broad can make inroads with the new ball. It will also be a chance to see debutant Mark Wood open his career in Test cricket in support of England's recognised bowling pairing.