In a lopsided first session of the pink-ball Test at Mount Maunganui, Ben Duckett scorched his way to the quickest half-century in England‘s Test history from 36 balls but perished with Gilbert Jessop’s 76-ball fastest hundred at his mercy. New Zealand was then given a strenuous Bazball refresher school.
After being assigned to bat first against a New Zealand attack that featured two debutants in Blair Tickner and Scott Kuggeleijn, England blasted ahead to 134 for 2 in 23 overs, a run rate of 5.82, by the time the interval rolled around.
It was Tickner who finally added New Zealand‘s second wicket of the session following the misleadingly early loss of Zak Crawley for 4, while Duckett – brimming with confidence after his excellent comeback to Test cricket inAs he went through another shot and found Michael Bracewell in the covers for 84 from 68 balls, Pakistan was left regretting the opportunity that was lost.
Ollie Pope, who reached the interval on 30 from 47 balls while not being particularly slow, had been willing to play for a partner in a runaway vein of form. They had scored 101 runs in just 16 overs. Overall, Duckett hit 14 fours in his innings, including a mid-morning salvo of seven runs in 14 balls, as his quick hands and aggressive demeanour tore through New Zealand‘s quicks.
Cyclone Gabrielle, which caused devastation on the North Island and was the focus of the Test’s lead-up, was the reason why the sides were wearing black. armbands. Because the pitch had been under wraps for a week and was somewhat untested, neither captain had been particularly eager to win the toss.
In the end, Tim Southee decided to bowl first and for no longer than three overs in his first Test on home soil since taking over as captain. It appeared that New Zealand might be well positioned to make inroads into an England line-up that had themselves only played one warm-up innings throughout the tour and were predisposed to rely on vibes rather than any read on the conditions.
Nevertheless, when Crawley scuffed a low edge to Southee’s following throw after his zippy initial delivery, Bracewell lost his grip after his third slide and had to turn to his right. Then, to make matters worse, in the second over, Neil Wagner—who had been given a share of the new ball in place of Trent Boult and Matt Henry—perfectly delivered Crawley through the gate only to have the wicket called off for a no-ball.
When Wagner was dismissed by Duckett for back-to-back fours in the same over, it was a morale-busting blow. Though he was quickly removed from the fray one over later, Tickner’s opening gambit was loose and jittery, especially his third over, which Duckett blasted for four fours in five balls.
Only Southee had the necessary talent and precision for the favourable early circumstances, butDue to Duckett’s amazing eye for an angle, even he was helpless, as his six over were picked off for 32. uggeleijn at least got the Test match off to a fiery start, hitting Pope in the helmet with his first delivery to force an early drinks break, but his three overs for 20 only served to highlight the lack of experience in New Zealand‘s lineup.