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NZ batsmen dig in on third day

England secured just one wicket in the first session as their hosts reached 224-5 at lunch, trailing on the first innings by 129.

New Zealand’s BJ Watling bats during play on day three of the first cricket test between England and New Zealand (Mark Baker/AP)
New Zealand’s BJ Watling bats during play on day three of the first cricket test between England and New Zealand (Mark Baker/AP)

By David Charlesworth, PA, Mount Maunganui

England captain Joe Root was the unlikely bowler to make the breakthrough on the third morning of the first cricket Test against New Zealand in Mount Maunganui.

With his front-line bowlers proving frugal if largely non-threatening on a desperately slow surface, Root was vindicated in bringing himself on as he struck with his fourth delivery to remove Henry Nicholls for 41.

However, it was a morning of toil for the tourists as New Zealand, resuming on 144 for four, reached 224 for five at lunch, still trailing by 129 but with BJ Watling (45) and Colin De Grandhomme (14) well poised to make further inroads into the deficit.

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England’s Joe Root celebrates after taking the wicket of New Zealand’s Henry Nicholls (Mark Baker/AP)

Root neglected to take the new ball just before the end of the session, perhaps in an effort to keep his seamers fresh for what looked likely to be more hard work in the next session.

Stuart Broad was chosen ahead of Jofra Archer to open the bowling alongside Sam Curran, who had accounted for New Zealand captain Kane Williamson the previous evening with a delivery that lifted viciously off a good length.

There was no sign of variable bounce on Saturday morning, though, with Broad settling into a routine of miserly bowling, yielding just one run off the bat in the space of five overs.

Nicholls, cleared to bat the day after being struck on the helmet by a Jofra Archer bouncer, and Watling took just 26 runs in the first 15 overs, content to build carefully.

England’s desperation extended to wasting a review on Nicholls, who then had an lbw verdict against him off Jack Leach overturned, only to perish in the next over when Root came on.

Two deliveries after Ben Stokes had dropped a simple catch at slip to reprieve Watling on 31, Nicholls played down the wrong line and was trapped plumb in front.

That was as good as it got for England, though, in a session where they bowled 32 overs.

PA

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