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England benefit from New Zealand’s self-destructive tendencies

New Zealand 553 and 224 for 7 (Mitchell 32*, Henry 8*, Young 56, Conway 52) lead England 539 (Root 176, Pope 145, Lees 67, Foakes 56, Boult 5-106) by 238 runs

England made the most of some self-destructive tendencies on New Zealand’s part to enter a tantalisingly poised final day at Trent Bridge with a chance of pressing for victory.

Sparked by James Anderson’s 650th Test wicket to remove opener and stand-in captain Tom Latham cheaply, England had their visitors seven wickets down and 238 runs ahead at the close on day four of this second Test, needing some magic from first-innings leader Daryl Mitchell and with Kyle Jamieson still under an injury cloud.

It was a familiar pairing who were tasked with extending New Zealand’s advantage as England made slow but ultimately steady inroads into their top order. In remarkable echoes of the first innings, Devon Conway and Will Young made starts – on this occasion both reaching fifty – before falling shortly afterwards to leave Mitchell and Tom Blundell united in a potentially match-shaping partnership for the third innings in a row, although it wasn’t to be.

Conway and Young shared a century stand to overcome the early loss of Latham, who inexplicably shouldered arms to an Anderson delivery which clattered into the top of middle stump, the fifth ball of the innings. They led the recovery from 4 for 1 to 104 for 1 during a sedate middle session.

But, no sooner had Conway raised his half-century with a reverse-swept four off Jack Leach than he was out. Leach, who had struggled to threaten as the duo started to pick him off, got the next ball – a wider one – to kick up just enough to find the top-edge as Conway swept and Jonny Bairstow swallowed the catch at deep square leg.

Henry Nicholls survived an England review for caught behind after his attempted reverse-sweep missed the bat and, despite striking the front pad, was also missing leg stump. But he fell in the first over after tea cutting a short, wide delivery from Matthew Potts straight to Alex Lees at backward point.

New Zealand were now 115 for 3 and Mitchell arrived at the crease after an eventful match so far in which he scored a pivotal 190 in the first innings and put down two simple slips catches during England’s reply before holding a gem to remove Stuart Broad on the fourth morning.

Mitchell was in the thick of the action once more as Young was run out after some apparent miscommunication between the two when Young nudged Stokes to the onside and set off for a run but paused to look at his partner amid calls of “waiting!” Ollie Pope had plenty of time to assess the situation as he fired the ball back to Stokes, who broke the stumps with a diving Young well short and gone for 56.

Mitchell was struck a nasty blow to the right forearm on 21 and paused to have it strapped but it was Blundell who fell a short time later. Having just struck Broad through extra cover for four, he sent the next ball – another short one – to Stokes at backward square leg ending his latest union with Mitchell on 45, paltry by their lofty standards of late.

Having already hit Broad for six over backward square, debutant Michael Bracewell then took back-to-back fours off Potts, lofted down the ground and pulled through midwicket. But when he tried it again he picked out Broad at mid-on and was gone after a neat cameo of 25 from just 17 balls.

Mitchell was then culpable in Tim Southee’s run out for a duck after steering Broad through backward point and turning the wrong way as he came back for the second which meant that by the time he saw Zak Crawley firing the ball back in and sent Southee back it was too late.

Earlier, Trent Boult‘s five-wicket haul had preserved the visitors’ first-innings lead – albeit worth just 14 runs – in a stoic display in which he and Southee had to toil hard in the absence of fellow seamer Jamieson, who left the field late on the third day with sharp pain in his lower back. New Zealand team management confirmed on Monday evening that Jamieson would bat if required, while his bowling involvement would be confirmed once MRI scan results had been assessed, with a further update expected before play on the final morning.

Joe Root and Ben Foakes picked up where they had left off on the third evening to help England close the gap, having resumed the day 80 runs in arrears. But the hosts lost their last five wickets for 66 runs in 14.2 overs as they were bowled out for 539 in reply to New Zealand’s 553.

The hosts began briskly, Southee conceding back-to-back fours through the off-side to Foakes, who was 24 not out overnight, before Root’s brazen reverse scoop over the fence at third man, all in the first over of the day. After five overs, England had scored seven boundaries, including Foakes’ fifth of the morning to bring up his half-century with a punch through cover off Southee, who went for 33 runs in his first three overs.

Shortly after that though, Southee held onto a leading edge stooping low to his left at cover to remove Root, who mistimed his drive at a Boult slower ball and fell for 176.

Broad followed and then Foakes fell for 56, run out when Potts turned a Bracewell delivery beyond short leg and called him through for a single but hesitated a couple of steps down and sent him back…. too late as Latham threw the ball back to Bracewell, who removed the bails.

Boult sealed his five-for bowling Potts with an excellent inswinging yorker that pegged back leg stump, finishing with 5-106 from 33.3 overs and Bracewell had his third when he had Anderson caught behind to end with 3 for 62 from 17.2 overs. Southee, meanwhile, ended up wicketless from his 32 overs.

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo


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