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Daryl Mitchell drives New Zealand to commanding position

Stumps England 90 for 1 (Pope 51*, Lees 34*) trail New Zealand 553 (Mitchell 190, Blundell 106) by 463 runs

Daryl Mitchell‘s prize innings put New Zealand in a commanding position at stumps on the second day of the Trent Bridge Test, despite a couple of late blemishes proving he’s only human and that England must take whatever chances they get.

England wobbled, losing Zak Crawley in the second over of their response, but then Ollie Pope showed intent with an unbeaten half-century as he made use of an excellent batting pitch – and some good fortune.

Mitchell, dropped on 3 and 104 amid a rash of fielding errors by England, soured a memorable day somewhat when he put down a simple chance at first slip off Tim Southee when Alex Lees was on 12. England were already one down after Trent Boult had Crawley caught behind for just 4 with an excellent cross-seam delivery.

Pope pressed the accelerator after facing 45 balls for his first 11 runs, racing to 37 from 56 as he twice pulled Matt Henry for six, the second instance prompting a ball change. Pope should have been gone shortly afterwards but Mitchell spilled another slips catch off Boult which raced away to the rope at third man.

Pope set about making New Zealand pay as he moved to fifty with two fours in three Kyle Jamieson deliveries, driven with aplomb through the covers and cut through backward point. Lees, meanwhile, got in on the boundary action too, with five fours on his way to 34 not out at the close.

It wasn’t until well into an extended evening session after rain had forced an early tea break that England finally broke the tourists’ stride after they had marched on from Blundell’s dismissal for 106.

His exit brought debutant Michael Bracewell to the crease and he played impressively during a 91-run partnership with Mitchell before falling one run shy of his fifty.

It was James Anderson who struck first after tea, drawing an outside edge from Bracewell and Joe Root held on firmly at slip, still clenching the ball tightly in his right fist as he animatedly gestured that it was staying put this time after contributing two of England’s five costly missed chances for the New Zealand innings.

So began a run of dismissals in which New Zealand lost four wickets for 24 runs in the space of 3.4 overs and, all told, their last five wickets for 57 runs. Stuart Broad claimed two in an over when he had Jamieson caught behind gloving a short ball then removed Tim Southee with another short ball which bobbed up off the splice and sailed to Root at gully.

Jack Leach chimed in when he had Matt Henry out slashing to Crawley in the covers, but then Boult added 33 runs with Mitchell, during which time Boult drew level with Muthiah Muralidaran for the most career Test runs scored at No. 11 with 623. Boult remained unbeaten with 16 from 18 balls when Mitchell finally perished for 190 reaching for a slow, wide ball from Matthew Potts and edging to Ben Foakes behind the stumps.

Earlier, Mitchell had backed up his century in last week’s first Test at Lord’s by reaching his second consecutive ton in the morning session after resuming on 81.

He stared in slack-jawed astonishment when another fielding error saw him survive – then cash in – shortly after posting his ton. On 104, Mitchell lofted Leach down the ground and Potts, running round to his left from long-on made the distance comfortably but somehow managed only to get a fingernail to the ball before it bounced onto his knee and over the rope for four.

Potts bowled the next over, only to concede back-to-back fours to Mitchell, the first bringing up the 200-partnership that had narrowly eluded him and Blundell at Lord’s, via an outside edge behind point and the second a crunching drive through mid-off.

Having moved to 90, Blundell paused for treatment after copping a heavy blow to his finger whilst facing Potts. After that, however, he made fast work of reaching his hundred with two fours from three Leach deliveries, the latter as he advanced down the pitch and pummelled the ball back over the bowler’s head for one bounce over the rope, and then a scrambled single off the last ball of the over.

Blundell, who managed 96 in a 195-run stand with Mitchell at Lord’s, fell when he took Leach on once more and chipped to Ben Stokes at mid-off.

Mitchell carted Leach for 17 runs in the second over after lunch, striking fours through cover and long-on and six down the ground. He launched another six over wide long-on in Leach’s next over and by the end of New Zealand’s innings they had plundered 84 boundaries. That included four sixes in all to Mitchell and nine fours to Bracewell, who impressed on his first Test outing.

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo


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