Tuesday, June 28, 2022

New Zealand 481 for five at tea after Mitchell and Blundell centuries

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Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell went back centuries as New Zealand put pressure on England on day two of the second Test at Trent Bridge.

The fifth pair of wickets picked up where they left off on the first night and Mitchell made it back to hundreds after efforts at Lord’s and Blundell (106) after coming four short in that game.

The Tourists had boosted their score to 481 for five when the rain brought an early tea, with Mitchell undefeated at 162 and having exactly doubled his score overnight.

Jack Leach dropped Mitchell to 104, Matthew Potts’ error increased England’s costly tally of missed chances to five in the match before eventually ending a partnership worth 236.

Blundell, who had just brought up his third Test century, hacked the left-arm spinner down the middle, where captain Ben Stokes showed his side how to hold on.

New Zealand added 94 runs in the first session and a further 69 before the weather turned, continuing the positive stroke play that allowed them to take charge on day one.

They had started at 318 for four, with the second new ball still relatively fresh after a brief burst on Friday night. England were keen to offer some help but neither James Anderson nor Stuart Broad were able to move it through the air.

It took Mitchell 45 minutes to turn his overnight 81 score into three numbers and got across the line with a rare miss when a thick edge from Potts sailed to the third-man limit. He’s been a revelation over the past two weeks and at the age of 31 seems to have finally cemented his place in a competitive middle class.

He should have made his way soon after and let Leach slide down the floor on 104 to give Potts a huge chance to run around from afar. The Sear made good ground but inexplicably allowed the ball to slip through his hands and bounce off his knee for four to add to the injury.

Potts had to pull himself together to bowl next time and was immediately sent to back-to-back borders. He exacted a small measure of revenge when he tapped Blundell on the finger, but the wicketkeeper didn’t allow himself to lose focus.

After agonizingly falling by a ton in the first test, he showed no nerves as he blasted through the 90s. He went to 99 with a big swing down the bottom of Leach and a one-bounce four before charging through for one to complete the job.

His stint ended soon after, Leach finally getting a reward in his 26th game when a loose batter selected Stokes but left Mitchell to set up a new stand with debutant Michael Bracewell.

New Zealand came out hot in the afternoon, hammering 26 from the first two overs. Leach was smashed for 17 of these, with Mitchell using his feet and long launching the spinner all the way. He followed with the fourth-sixth of his innings to go with 20 fours.

Bracewell couldn’t have asked for a smoother introduction at the highest level, but showed he easily handled it with a couple of blinding drives from Stokes and a crunchy pull shot.

England rolled into the ground as rain showers hit to give them a welcome respite.

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