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England unable to bat out final day en route to Test loss in New Zealand

The tourists were set a difficult task on the final day.

England’s Ben Stokes, batting, was unable to rescue his side against hosts New Zealand (Mark Baker/AP)
England’s Ben Stokes, batting, was unable to rescue his side against hosts New Zealand (Mark Baker/AP)

By David Charlesworth, PA, Mount Maunganui

England were unable to negotiate batting out the final day against New Zealand as a series of injudicious strokes saw the tourists hammered by an innings and 65 runs at Mount Maunganui.

Neil Wagner’s five for 44 included two wickets in as many balls to bring an abrupt conclusion to proceedings as the Black Caps took a 1-0 lead in the two-Test series, but a number of England batsmen were culpable for their own downfall.

With seven wickets in hand and needing to bat out the day to guarantee the series stayed level heading to Hamilton later this week, England captain Joe Root and deputy Ben Stokes were among those out to puzzling shot selections.

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England’s Joe Denly held on for the longest on the fifth day against New Zealand at Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui (Mark Baker/AP)

Root seemed to be caught in two minds as he tamely steered to gully, Stokes under-edged a booming cut on to his stumps while Ollie Pope carelessly extended himself to reach a wide full toss, only to bunt to cover.

England’s heavy loss on a sluggish pitch – albeit one that offered turn and bounce out of the footholes for Mitch Santner, who took three for 53 – was all the more galling given Trent Boult was only able to send down one over on Monday because of a rib injury that leaves him doubtful for the second Test.

But the hosts found their opponents in charitable mood as the only batsman to last more than 100 balls was Joe Denly, who received scant support elsewhere in his 35 from 142 deliveries as England were all out for 197.

A draw had seemed distinctly remote once they had lurched from 121 for four to 138 for eight before tea and there were still 21.4 overs remaining when Stuart Broad was the last man out for a golden duck in the last session.

The new era of Root and head coach Chris Silverwood began in underwhelming fasion as New Zealand claimed only their 11th Test win over England and third in the last four matches between the sides.

The Kiwis would have been favourites after Santner accounted for England openers Dom Sibley and Rory Burns and nightwatchman Jack Leach late on day four.

But, before play, England seamer Broad had been bullish about their prospects as he said to the BBC’s Test Match Special they “expect” to save the game, adding: “There’s nothing in that pitch that should frighten us.”

Broad and England had, of course, spent 201 overs in the field as BJ Watling’s double ton and Santner’s first Test century had ushered New Zealand to 615 for nine declared and a first-innings lead of 262.

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Denly, right, was unable to summon something special (Mark Baker/AP)

Watling, and to a lesser extent Santner, had shown England the blueprint of how to prosper on this slow surface, namely eschewing risk and riding out the rough periods, which Denly and Root were initially able to do.

However, Root, on 11, was caught in two minds as he left his bat hanging in the air to a short and wide ball from Colin De Grandhomme, with an edge just about carrying to Tom Latham, who took a low catch at gully.

Root’s average as Test captain has dropped to 39.7, compared to 52.8 when he is not leading the side, and his indeterminate shots across both innings at the Bay Oval have hinted at a frazzled mind.

Denly and Stokes consolidated either side of lunch in a 52-run stand but there were signs the latter’s patience was starting to fray before he chopped on to his leg-stump off Southee for 28 from 84 balls.

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Ben Stokes appears frustrated after he is dismissed (Mark Baker/AP)

Denly was a touch unfortunate in his dismissal, shaping to leave a Wagner bumper, the ball brushed the glove on the way through to wicketkeeper Watling as New Zealand were vindicated in reviewing the original not out decision.

Pope, in just his third Test, bizarrely chased a wider delivery and perished to a superb Santner catch off Wagner, who located Jos Buttler’s off-stump with a hooping in-swinger immediately after New Zealand had taken the new ball.

There was some brief resistance from Sam Curran (29no) and Jofra Archer (30), both of whom rode their luck in a 59-run stand that was England’s highest of the second innings.

But Archer strangely hooked to deep backward square-leg off Wagner, whose low full toss trapped Broad plumb in front, leaving the Kiwis buoyant.

PA

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