New Zealand 50-1 at tea on day 2 of 1st test vs New Zealand

MOUNT MAUNGANUI, New Zealand (AP) — Jos Buttler and Jack Leach shared a critical tail-end stand which stalled a New Zealand comeback on the second day of the first cricket test Friday, allowing England to reach 353 in its first innings.

At tea, New Zealand was 50-1 in reply with captain Kane Williamson 23 not out and Jeet Raval on 10.

After surviving their first encounter with England's star fast bowler Jofra Archer, New Zealand openers Raval and Tom Latham were separated in the first over from third seamer Sam Curran, who trapped Latham lbw for 9. The home side now faces a tough job with the bat to bring the match back into balance.

It had been evenly poised when seamer Tim Southee took three wickets in the space of 11 balls in the first session Friday, including the key wicket of Ben Stokes for 91, to lead a strong New Zealand rally.

Southee also claimed a catch at second slip to remove Archer as England, resuming at 241-4, cruised to 277-4 before slumping to 295-8.

Buttler and Leach then put England back in a strong position with a partnership of 52 for the ninth wicket which frustrated New Zealand for 18 overs. After farming the strike, Buttler was finally out for 43 while Leach faced 55 balls and ended not out on 18.

The pair played England back into the match after its middle order had faltered in the morning. The dismissal of Stokes ended a commanding 74-run partnership with Ollie Pope which had given the tourists the upper hand as they batted after winning the toss.

New Zealand-born Stokes has been the bete noir of his birth country in its recent meetings with England. It was his unbeaten 84 which guided England to its remarkable countback win in the 50-overs World Cup final at Lord's in July.

In reaching 67 by stumps on Thursday, Stokes built on the solid foundation laid by Rory Burns (52) and Joe Denly (74) to put England in a powerful position.

Stokes bullied the New Zealand bowlers off their lengths in the final session on the first day and seemed set to do the same thing Friday as he moved around his crease, meeting every delivery with the full face of the bat. He took boundaries from a series of superbly-timed drives on both sides of the wickets and added two fine back cuts for four when he was given length and width.

It was New Zealand and especially Southee who made the decisive change of length. The second new ball was only 11 overs old at the start of play and was still swinging in warm, windy conditions at the Bay Oval. Southee pitched the ball up and it began swing enough to undo a series of England batsman.

First he drew Stokes forward with a ball which swung away as the all-rounder aimed a drive through cover, took the edge and was brilliantly caught by Ross Taylor at first slip, who made up for two dropped chances on the first day.

He then enticed Pope (29) to chase another wide ball which left him and was caught by wicketkeeper B.J. Watling running in front of the slip cordon.


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