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Williamson leads New Zealand to strong position

Good hands from Guptill, Latham and Taylor add to England’s misery as visitors end Day 2 just 86 behind

Williamson leads New Zealand to strong position - Cricket News
Kane Williamson was unbeaten on 92 on Day 2.
Kane Williamson (92 not out) and Ross Taylor (47 not out) controlled the evening session on the second day of the first Test against England at Lord’s on Friday (May 22), scoring 130 runs after tea for New Zealand to close 86 runs behind with eight first-innings wickets in hand. 

Three hours before the start of play, with just the mowers pottering around the pristine outfield to catch the eye, there was no sign of the extraordinary events of the previous day that had England recovering from 30 for 4 to reach 354 for 7, having lost Jos Buttler to the first day’s final delivery. And, as the crowd slowly filtered through security, they must have wondered if Thursday’s thrills and spills would be repeated.

After a couple of sumptuous strokes, Moeen Ali waved his bat at a short wide one from Trent Boult and was comfortably caught by stand-in wicketkeeper Tom Latham for 58, a score both pleasing and disappointing at the same time. One always feels that there is so much more to come from Moeen with the bat, but an average of 31.5 in his tenth Test may be about right, and that puts plenty of pressure on his bowling.

Stuart Broad then nicked off to Boult for 3, as England’s innings looked in danger of falling away to the impressive left-arm pacer. Some tenth wicket slogging got the score up to 389, something England would have settled for after the early reversals on the first day, but was below what it would have hoped for when Buttler and Moeen were cruising at 354 for 6 the evening before. Boult was the pick of the attack with 4 for 79, but debutant Matt Henry also impressed with 4 for 93. 

England’s fast scoring rate (almost four an over) meant that New Zealand had all the time in the world to bat on a shirtfront with only a bit of overhead cloud to assist England’s seamers.

Martin Guptill, fresh from smacking it around in the World Cup, scored his first Test runs for two years, driving James Anderson through the covers to the Grandstand, but was very fortunate to survive edging a catch to Cook at first slip, reprieved due to Mark Wood over-stepping by the narrowest of margins. With few other alarms, New Zealand lunched at 44 for no loss, England looking to get a lot more from its senior bowlers in the afternoon session.

Latham was the next to get a life, dropped by Ian Bell off Ben Stokes shortly after lunch, a vindication of Cook’s decision open the session his all-rounder and Wood after Broad and Anderson had lacked threat with the new ball. Though it was overcast at Lord’s, it was chilly too, so the ball was reluctant to swing much, making those missed chances all the more galling for England’s many supporters wrapped up well in the stands or picnicking in front of the big screens on the Nursery Ground. 

The sun came out, Cook finally threw the ball to Moeen and, after a Guptill six to start his second over, the off-spinner pinned Latham on the back foot and England had its wicket at last, the left-hander gone for 59. 

Two balls later, Guptill slapped Broad to short extra cover where Gary Ballance took a fine sprawling catch, the opener gone for 70, and 148 for no loss had become 148 for 2, both set openers back in the pavilion and a match of big swings of fortune had swung again.  

Not without a scare or two (and Broad should really have run Ross Taylor on 1) New Zealand made it through to tea on 173 for 2, England looking for reverse swing that looked like it might go, but actually never did. 

Williamson was particularly fluent after tea as Cook maintained attacking fields and bowlers ran through yorkers, bouncers and length, over the wicket and round. But the pitch is an absolute belter and, if the batsmen stay patient, they really shouldn’t get out to an attack that lacks the extreme pace or fizzing spin that can punch a hole on any surface. With both not out batsmen boasting Test double centuries and next man McCullum a triple, England has a tough weekend ahead of it.  

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