Sam Curran claimed the prize wicket of New Zealand captain Kane Williamson as England’s bowlers wrestled back the initiative after an all too familiar batting collapse in the second Test.
Ben Stokes’s dismissal for 91 sparked England’s slide from 277 for four to 295 for eight in the space of 21 chaotic deliveries – although an eventual 353 all out was their highest overseas first-innings total in nearly two years.
It may yet be a telling score as the Black Caps closed on 144 for four at stumps on day two, with Williamson wrenched out immediately after reaching his half-century with a delivery that reared up viciously at him.
The ball from Curran, who took two for 28 after being included at the expense of Chris Woakes, was the first major warning of variable bounce on a slow Bay Oval surface offering a hint of swing but little else.
Here is day two in review.
💥 Taylor's stunning slip catch— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) November 22, 2019
🖊 Santner's new signature move
😬 Williamson stunned by spitting delivery
Here's the best of the action from day two of the first #NZvENG Test. Join us for day three from 9.30pm on Sky Sports Cricket.
Jeet Raval letting a chance off Jos Buttler burst through his fingertips seemed like it might be costly but Mitch Santner proved an altogether more safe pair of hands in the next over. What was even more remarkable was that the slow left-armer had been off the field and over the advertising hoardings signing autographs moments beforehand. However, he appeared to be back on the field of play just before Neil Wagner entered into his delivery stride.
Drama in the #NZvENG press tent as Buttler lands a six on the roof off Boult. Professional work from @BLACKCAPS media officer James Bennett who puts some work on the ball and rifles it back into the field of play. England 329-8 closing in on lunch.— Andrew Alderson (@aldersonnotes) November 22, 2019
Buttler had earlier given the written press a momentary scare in the penultimate over before lunch. As he and Jack Leach stemmed the flow of wickets, Buttler tucked into Boult, launching him high over long-off for a maximum which landed on the roof of the marquee holding the media. Thankfully, the tent did its job and there were no unfortunate injuries.
New Zealand need no reminding about what Christchurch-born Ben Stokes can do them after his starring role for England in the World Cup final. Ross Taylor, then, must have had a bit of a sleepless night after dropping the all-rounder on 63 on the opening day. However, he atoned with a stunning grab as Stokes was seen off without causing much more damage. Diving to his right, Taylor managed to cling on to a one-handed catch that should be in his highlight reel.
Curran had earlier made the breakthrough for England but it came in a peculiar fashion. Tom Latham decided against querying an lbw verdict after being rapped on the front pad, only for Hot Spot to highlight an inside edge. A mitigating factor may have been Latham brushing his pad before making contact with the ball.
While Latham, Raval and Taylor were all culpable, to varying degrees, in their own downfall, there was little Williamson could do with a delivery that came just as England’s Barmy Army were starting to become more vocal. Indeed, England’s travelling fans may even claim a slight assist after matters had seemed to become a little flat as Williamson went diligently about his business.
November 23: New Zealand v England, day three of the first Test, Mount Maunganui. With Williamson back in the pavilion, England will look to press for a lead of 100 or more.