Tom Blundell led New Zealand’s fight with a valiant 80 from 131 balls as England pressed for a first-innings advantage in the first Test in Mount Maunganui. Ben Stokes had previously taken the key wicket of Devon Conway for 77.
The first two sessions of day two were more cat-and-mouse than England’s freewheeling exploits on the first day, but they were no less exciting as Stokes rotated his bowlers in search of breakthroughs in the least responsive conditions of the match, including his own five-over spell of short balls in the hour after tea.
Conway, who had served as the cornerstone of New Zealand’s response for 51 over, was eventually dismissed by England in the midst of this onslaught. At the break, Stokes decided to challenge him with a sole diet of bouncers because he had already signalled his desire to go for his shots with three fours off Stuart Broad in the day’s opening over.
The strategy was successful in an overrun by two no-balls. Conway attempted to paddle Stokes’ eighth delivery over square leg rather than ascending into a cut shot since it was short but beyond of his line of sight. At 158 for 6, England had the opportunity they had been looking for as Ollie Pope was there to take a looping chance.
Five overs later, Jack Leach was the recipient of a long pause in action as Michael Bracewell was struck flush on the helmet by another short ball from Stokes, turning that into 182 for 7. Bracewell attempted to rocket through the line three balls after play resumed, but he was only able to scuff his shot tamely to mid-on, where Stokes was once more involved in the action
After being given a respite at backward square by a Stuart Broad no-ball, nightwatch Neil Wagner provided New Zealand’s innings a boost. They had started the day on a wobbly 37 for 3, still 288 runs behind. That was as good as it would go for Broad, who scored on his next over with a four and two sixes, both lifted on the pull over the backward square boundary.
Wagner could only clip the double-bluff, a longer cutter, in the air to midwicket after Broad delivered it one delivery later. It was also a significant moment because Broad and Anderson had just claimed their 1000th wicket together as a team since their first Test match at Wellington in 2008.
An old thorn in England’s side, the new man in was. In the Test series from the previous year, Mitchell amassed an astounding 538 runs, including centuries in each of the three matches. Ollie Robinson joined the attack this time, though, and scored in his first over when Mitchell padded up to a flawless outside off nipbacker and was sent on his way, lbw, without scoring
Conway was not in the mood to be humble as New Zealand’s innings was in danger of failing at 83 for 5. After drinks, he drove Leach’s opening delivery through the covers for four and advanced to a 98-ball half-century in Robinson’s next over before lifting Joe Root’s spin onto the sightscreen for a clean six.
At the other end, Blundell, Mitchell’s travelling companion with England, was soon finding his own stride. His first run came on a dabbed late cut for four off Leach, and that would turn out to be the defining shot of his innings, accounting for four of his nine fours.
Anderson believed he had finally removed Blundell with an inside edge for 74, but umpire Aleem Dar had to reverse his decision. Scott Kuggeleijn’s composed debut innings, which included a significant slog-swept six from Leach as part of a 53-run eighth-wicket stand, added to England’s frustrations. Robinson, however, unleashed a fantastic inswinger as dinnertime drew near, hitting the top of the middle and sending him on his way for 20.