Bowled out for 209 in the morning, New Zealand were 202 for three at stumps in their second innings at the Basin Reserve
New Zealand’s Tom Latham celebrates after reaching his half-century. — AFP
England’s dominance of New Zealand stalled on day three of the second Test in Wellington on Sunday as the hosts batted with defiance after being asked to follow on by visiting captain Ben Stokes.
Bowled out for 209 in the morning, New Zealand were 202 for three at stumps in their second innings at the Basin Reserve on the back of a 149-run opening stand by Devon Conway and Tom Latham.
The Black Caps need only 24 runs to make England bat again, and the task falls to number three Kane Williamson (25 not out) and number five Henry Nicholls (23 not out) to return on Monday and help set England a proper fourth innings chase.
It was a boost for most fans in the sold-out home crowd following two days of English domination in this Test after defeat in the series-opener in Mount Maunganui.
For all that, Stokes’s team remain ahead of the game, even if their lead was pegged back considerably after a full day of toil in the field.
England assistant coach Paul Collingwood defended Stokes’s decision to enforce the follow-on.
“We’re in a good position still,” he said.
“The skipper wasn’t thinking of not enforcing, just taking the positive approach and trying to win it today.
“Hard toil, but this wicket has done plenty in the morning session.”
Two wickets to spinner Jack Leach and one to Joe Root in the Black Caps’ second innings revived England after their pace attack was thwarted by half-centuries to Conway and Latham.
Leach made the breakthrough by removing Conway for 61, the ball finding an outside edge that careened off the opener’s pad over to short leg where the athletic Ollie Pope dived forward for the catch.
The wicket shifted the momentum back to England, with New Zealand losing 3-18 in a hurry.
Latham, who brought up his 5,000th Test run in his innings, was soon out lbw for 83 trying to sweep part-time spinner Joe Root.
Having managed two runs in the first innings, number four Will Young was bowled for eight by Leach, a misfire for New Zealand’s selectors who picked him for Wellington to add depth to their batting.
Young’s wicket set up a nervous final hour for Williamson and Nicholls who rode their luck at times against pace and spin but came off unbeaten.
Williamson needs four runs to eclipse Ross Taylor’s record of 7,683 runs and become New Zealand’s highest scorer in Tests.
While Conway and Latham’s partnership put New Zealand back in the game, the spark may have been lit earlier by captain Tim Southee as he slogged his way to a 49-ball 73 in the morning.
Smashing six sixes, including three off Leach in an over, Southee briefly raised New Zealand’s hopes of avoiding the follow-on after they resumed on 138 for seven in their first innings.
He was eventually caught by Zak Crawley at midwicket after a top edge off Stuart Broad.
With Broad grabbing the final two wickets quickly, New Zealand fell 27 runs short of making England bat again but Southee’s knock was a rallying cry for the second innings push.
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