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Denly's drop a huge slice of luck, admits Williamson

 

Oh no: Joe Denly reacts to his dropped catch in England’s Hamilton draw
Oh no: Joe Denly reacts to his dropped catch in England’s Hamilton draw
Jofra Archer

By David Charlesworth

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson admitted he was grateful for Joe Denly's butter fingers after helping the Black Caps close out a series victory over England in Hamilton.

Williamson's 21st Test century and Ross Taylor's 19th hundred in New Zealand whites in an unbroken 213-run stand staved off the prospect of an unlikely England win in the second Test.

The forecast rain had the final say in a drawn conclusion to the series but England were given a sniff as Williamson presented openings on 39 and 62, neither taken by Ollie Pope or Denly.

The latter was the most egregious, Denly seeing a straightforward opportunity slip through his hands after Williamson had limply prodded forward off Jofra Archer's knuckle ball.

Archer was already celebrating before the catch was taken only to look round and see the ball on the turf, drawing a wry smile from the fast bowler on what has been a challenging tour for him.

Williamson said: "It was fairly simple. No doubt Joe's disappointed - Jofra certainly was. I was very fortunate, you don't get many opportunities like that."

New Zealand had slumped to 28 for two in their second innings on day four, 73 adrift of England, but Williamson and Taylor took them into calmer waters and had reached 241 for two and a lead of 140 before the inclement weather hit.

That guaranteed a 1-0 win for the Black Caps, their fifth series victory in a row at home and second over England in the space of 20 months.

Williamson added: "It was a great effort from the guys after being slightly up against it after the first innings.

"When there's weather around it takes time out of the game so, although there is frustration there in terms of getting a result, at the same time it was a good effort to end up with a draw.

"A lot of hard work went into saving the match in the end when time didn't allow us time to win it. But overall it was a really good effort.

"There was a huge amount of fight from the guys which was really pleasing to see."

New Zealand now travel to Australia in a three-Test series starting in Perth next week with Trent Boult and Colin de Grandhomme on course to prove their fitness in time.

Left-arm pace bowler Boult (ribs) and all-rounder De Grandhomme (stomach muscle) both sustained their injuries in New Zealand's first-Test victory against England in Mount Maunganui.

The pair missed the drawn second Test in Hamilton, but are hoping to feature in the first Test against Australia in Perth on December 12.

New Zealand coach Gary Stead said: "They're both progressing well, which is encouraging for us.

"I don't know if I'm really confident - I'm quietly optimistic. Both are going to have to prove their fitness a couple of days out and bowl a decent spell of probably 10-12 overs at least."

Matt Henry and Daryl Mitchell replaced the duo in the second Test against England, with debutant Mitchell making 73 in the first innings.

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