New Zealand take control of first Test against England

England trail by 60 runs with eight second-innings wickets in hand

England bowler Stuart Broad  celebrates as wicketkeeper Jos Buttler catches New Zealand batsman  Ross Taylor down the legside during day three of the first Test at Lord’s. Photo: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

England bowler Stuart Broad celebrates as wicketkeeper Jos Buttler catches New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor down the legside during day three of the first Test at Lord’s. Photo: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

 

England are battling to stay in contention at Lord’s, and avoid a false start to their Ashes summer, after conceding a 134-run first-innings advantage to New Zealand.

Captain Alastair Cook and his former deputy Ian Bell were engaged in a critical rearguard, still behind on 74 for two at stumps on day three, after Kane Williamson (132) underpinned the Kiwis’ 523 all out in the first Test.

The prolific Williamson was statistically responsible for almost the entirety of his team’s lead, assisted by four other half-centuries, as the England attack failed to haul back an established imbalance.

They bowled better than for much of Friday, in more helpful conditions either side of a rain-extended lunch break, but the improvement was not reflected on the scoreboard, even after Moeen Ali hinted at a fightback with two wickets in three balls.

Williamson, whose annual aggregate in just three innings was already more than 400 before he completed his 10th Test century on a cloudy morning, was immovable for more than six hours until he went bat-pad to Moeen.

Among the England bowlers, Ben Stokes especially deserved more than his figures of nought for 105 while the rewards came belatedly for Stuart Broad (three for 77) and debutant Mark Wood (three for 93).

Edges were most often either passed or evaded fielders and, in the case of Williamson on 120, burst through the fingers of second slip Bell, who dropped his second chance of the innings off Stokes.

Williamson, 92 overnight, and Ross Taylor, who was on 47, both made sure of their personal milestones before England could even complete three overs to the second new ball.

After the meticulous number three passed his century from 148 balls, having hit 12 boundaries, Taylor (62) was brilliantly caught-behind one-handed down the leg-side off Broad by a diving Jos Buttler to end a third-wicket stand of 189.

Williamson was content to sit in and tire England. But new batsman Brendon McCullum was soon in ‘one-day’ mode.

The New Zealand captain brought his team level with successive fours behind square on the off-side off Wood, and then hit Stokes high over midwicket for six.

James Anderson was unable to add to his 397 Test wickets, until Tim Southee mis-pulled him to be eighth out, and he also failed to run Williamson out on 108 when a direct hit from mid-on would have beaten a scampered single.

But Wood, who thought he had a maiden wicket the previous day only to hear a no-ball call then, got in the final column when McCullum went to scythe more leg-side runs and instead mishit to third man where Joe Root took an awkward, steepling catch.

McCullum, gone for 42 from just 38 balls, was the first in his team to make less than 50.

Corey Anderson was then first to go in single-figures, to another spectacular leg-side catch by Buttler off Wood.

But Williamson kept rolling on in another half-century stand with BJ Watling (61no) until he was caught at backward short-leg off Moeen, who doubled up two balls later with Mark Craig lbw for a duck.

Watling dug in again, with one piece of fortune on 46 when he gloved Anderson low to gully only for the third umpire to rule out a low catch which would have put England’s record-breaker on a hat-trick in search of that historic 400th wicket.

Wood and Broad took the last two wickets after tea, leaving England a scheduled 32 overs in which to demonstrate their viability for the remainder of the match.

After Yorkshire pair Adam Lyth and Gary Ballance each failed for the second time, respectively caught at second slip off Trent Boult and then bowled off-stump for a 12-ball duck by a variation cutter from Tim Southee, Cook had a tough task to keep his team competitive.

Almost two hours later, it could be said at least that he had made a start.

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