England’s fortunes took another precarious turn after New Zealand’s seamers found movement in a difficult final hour to leave England 39/2, still trailing by 336 runs in Hamilton overnight.
New Zealand again found ways to graft their way to a competitive score by batting for a long period of time and were able to put England’s top order under pressure in response.
The day began half an hour early with New Zealand 173/3 and England enjoyed early success with Stuart Broad quickly removing overnight centurion Tom Latham for 105.
Again, the New Zealand batsmen were able to recover through a partnership between BJ Watling, the double century-maker of Mount Maunganui, and debutant Daryl Mitchell.
Mitchell, the son of England rugby’s assistant coach and ex-All Blacks coach John Mitchell, was particularly impressive in his debut innings of 73, especially with his ability to occupy the crease and accelerate when necessary.
After a flurry of late wickets and runs at the end of New Zealand’s innings, it seemed the pitch had quickened up a bit, and the contest truly came alive when Tim Southee and Matt Henry were given the new ball.
Dom Sibley was visibly rattled when he was thumped on the helmet by Tim Southee, his second blow to the badge after one in England’s warm-up match in Whangarei. Four overs later he played loosely across the line and was trapped LBW for 4.
Joe Denly did not last much longer and was dismissed playing a loose drive and was caught behind for 4.
The damage may have been worse if a chance by Burns was held by Jeet Raval at mid-wicket. Root was also lucky to survive the final ball of the day off Neil Wagner as it flew just wide of leg gully.
Burns and Root remain not out overnight with the England captain desperate for some runs and in some ways lucky to be there. He will want to make the most of his opportunity tomorrow before the pitch starts to deteriorate.
With Ben Stokes unable to bowl, he will also want to make runs in this innings to justify his selection and with Buttler and Curran still to come there is no reason why England can’t approach parity with New Zealand in this first innings if they apply themselves.
Play resumes tonight at 10pm.