New Zealand 350 and 338-6
Both New Zealand and England continued to score quickly at Headingley on day three of the second Test yesterday. With 435 runs scored in 96overs of bowling, it was the Kiwis that emerged on top as BJ Watling remained unbeaten on 100 overnight. England were left to rue three missed catches that could ultimately cost them dear, particularly the life they offered Watling. The tourists will start day four already 338 runs to the good, as they look to square the two-Test series.
Poor start for England
Day three started badly for England, as they soon lost the wickets of Ian Bell (12), Jos Buttler (10) and Moeen Ali (1). All three batsmen fell to Tim Southee, with a large first innings deficit suddenly looking a distinct possibility at 267-8.
Broad of old
That England were able to gain parity on the scoreboard was largely down to the efforts of Stuart Broad, who plundered 46 runs from 39 balls. A half-century partnership with Mark Wood closed the gap significantly; a further 32 runs for the tenth wicket with James Anderson brought the scores all-square. With the Ashes to come, more resilience from the tail would seem a prerequisite to success there.
New Zealand's bowlers mirrored England's efforts to remove the Black Caps' tail earlier in the match, letting them add 'easy' runs. Southee's spell of 4-83 was still impressive, with the less vaunted Mark Craig chipping in with 2-48 off 26 overs, demonstrating far better control than his England counterparts.
England in the wickets
The Kiwis were soon back in trouble in their second knock. Broad removed Tom Latham and Kane Williamson with just 23 on the board, both men offering catches to Buttler.
Positive third wicket stand
Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor arrested their decline, scoring at a run a ball as the third wicket added 99 runs. Taylor fell on 48, Wood making the necessary breakthrough for the hosts. Guptill (70) also fell to Wood soon afterwards, as England reined the Kiwis back to 141-4 and perhaps sensed that they had regained the advantage.
Skipper solidifies the innings
Not one bit of it, as captain Brendon McCullum and Watling put together what may prove to be the defining partnership of the match. Not only did they stop the fall of wickets, the pair added 121 priceless runs. By the time Wood had finally trapped McCullum LBW, he had scored 55 runs off 98 balls. Pedestrian by his normal standards, but indicative of a thinking captain, a player who can adjust to the needs at hand.
Lead begins to grow
The visitors' score was beginning to take on worrying proportions for the home side, with Watling continuing to accumulate at one end and the new batsman Luke Ronchi adopting a more adventurous approach at the other. Ronchi became Anderson's first wicket of the innings, but his handy 31 off 23 balls had advanced the Kiwis' cause to 315-6 by then.
Watling reaches his century
Craig ensured that Watling had sufficient support to reach three figures before the close of play, as the sizeable lead of 338 with four wickets still remaining looks ominous for England's chances. It will take some effort on their part to preserve their 1-0 advantage in the series one suspects, with plenty of time left in the match and NZ sensing their opportunity. Indeed, they would need to exceed their highest ever Test run chase to achieve it. #CricketThere may yet be another twist in the tale though one suspects in this highly entertaining series.