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England turn to Stokes early despite knee concerns

The Black Caps pushed their score to 248 at lunch on day two.

Ben Stokes was introduced into the England attack, despite concerns over his left knee (Mark Baker/AP).
Ben Stokes was introduced into the England attack, despite concerns over his left knee (Mark Baker/AP).

By David Charlesworth, PA, Hamilton

England all-rounder Ben Stokes bowled five overs despite concerns over his left knee as New Zealand advanced to 248 for five at lunch on day two of the second Test at Hamilton.

Stokes was in obvious discomfort in the only two overs he sent down on day one.

While he bowled on the practice strip with heavy strapping on his left leg before play on Saturday morning, it was thought he would be restricted to a fielding brief.

However, within an hour and a quarter of the morning session, Stokes was limbering up and came into the attack, bowling with some hostility in an economical spell of 5-3-3-0.

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Ben Stokes with heavy strapping on his left knee (Mark Baker/AP).

The 28-year-old did not look to be in pain although the decision to risk his fitness here seemed peculiar, with the South Africa series which counts towards the World Test Championship looming.

This series does not count towards the championship although this second and final Test is a must-win for the tourists after they were thrashed in the opener at Mount Maunganui.

England took two wickets inside the first hour on Saturday, with play starting half an hour earlier at 10.30am local time (9.30pm GMT) and 98 overs scheduled because of the afternoon thunderstorm that curtailed day one.

Tom Latham added just four runs to his overnight score of 101 before a rare misjudgement saw him leave a straight one from Broad to his peril as the ball clipped off-stump.

Henry Nicholls then unnecessarily hooked Sam Curran to Broad at long leg on 16 as an overnight 173 for three became 191 for five.

However, with BJ Watling, England’s tormentor at the Bay Oval with an epic double century, and Test debutant Daryl Mitchell settling into their stride, Stokes was brought on to bowl.

Watling settled after tentatively prodding forward at Sam Curran on one, with the edge dropping short of makeshift wicketkeeper Ollie Pope, while Mitchell was a capable foil at the other end.

Watling had moved on to 29 not out while Mitchell was unbeaten on 26 as the session came to a close.

PA

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