Day three started off with the home side under a cloud of gloom. They were 4 down and over 200 runs behind, they lost some careless wickets yesterday, Williamson was out and we didn’t even know whether Nicholls would continue his innings.
The first session was a bit of a grind. New Zealand started to look to level things but lost Nicholls to Root of all people with the score under 200. But any session that has a score of 80/1 is a good one for the batting side…
Of course, BJ Watling loves situations like this. He never seems to score when he comes in at 400/4 but when the back’s up against the wall he’s up for it. Those plaques at The Basin are proof of that.
He had one Stokes dropped him when on 31 but for the rest of time he was in complete command. And the energy levels of the guy; in the final over he was sprinting away trying to turn singles into twos.
The bonus was Colin de Grandhomme who played his best test innings given the circumstances. He took Stokes’s lead by realising you had plenty of time to play yourself in. The England brains trust had clearly done their homework on him; setting long on and long off deep the spinners were on waiting for the brain explosion. It never happened.
The shift of balance occurred after England took the second new ball post lunch. Nothing really seemed to happen with it and the scoring rate increased.
Archer is an interesting one. That over to Nicholls at the end of Day Two was as hostile as you’d see but he seemed to drift in and out of the day. If you were to graph his speedball radar figures (he got up to 152kph at one stage) it would look like a heart attack.
Colin went on the first ball after tea, but by that stage the hill was almost climbed as the England bowlers tired. Santner got roughed up by the under-bowled Stokes early before bringing out all the slinky shots.
It is not often only two wickets fall in a day of test cricket; the day’s total was 250/2.
New Zealand has a handy but not dominating lead. Hey will look to bat until around lunch tomorrow before finding out what this pich is going to do on days 4 and 5.