New Zealand 224-5 at lunch on day 3 of 1st test vs England
MOUNT MAUNGANUI, New Zealand (AP) — Joe Root ended a dangerous partnership between Henry Nicholls and B.J. Watling on Saturday to put England back on top in the first cricket test against New Zealand at lunch on the third day.
Nicholls was on 41 and had added 70 with Watling for New Zealand's fifth wicket when he fell lbw to Root half an hour before lunch, just as the home team appeared to be coming back into the match.
At the break, New Zealand was 224-5 with Watling 45 not out and Colin de Grandhomme on 14. New Zealand had resumed at 144-4 in reply to England's first innings of 353 and appeared to have brought the match at least to parity when Nicholls fell.
Nicholls showed courage in batting through most of the morning session to reach 41 after resuming at 26 not out. He was struck on the helmet by England paceman Jofra Archer near the end of play on Friday and had to pass a concussion test before continuing his innings Saturday.
The left-handed Nicholls was again tested by Archer in the early stages of the morning session as the tall England fast bowler caused a few balls to rise steeply.
But Nicholls fell to the relatively innocuous spin of Root, who brought himself into the attack for only his second over of the match in the 71st over. It was an eventful introduction.
His first delivery was cut for four by Watling and only three balls later the New Zealand wicketkeeper was dropped by Ben Stokes at first slip when he was 31.
The catch was a relatively simple one and the reprieve granted by Stokes continued Watling’s charmed innings. He was judged lbw to left-armer Jack Leach in the previous over but the decision was overturned on review.
Nicholls fell two balls after Watling's let-off, struck on the back pad by a ball which scuttled through low. Neither Root nor Leach found much turn but both troubled the batsmen when the ball kept low as it did often before lunch.
The England quicks were less effective, especially when they bowled around the wicket to the left-handed Nicholls, who defended solidly. The danger for the batsman appeared to be in the increasingly variable bounce at the Bay Oval.
New Zealand will return after lunch with the second new ball due immediately.