ENGLAND’S hopes of winning the second Test in three days were thwarted by some persistent New Zealand punches.
The Blackcaps’ opening pair, Tom Latham and Devon Conway, put up 149 for the first wicket in their second innings, and then Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls survived to the end.
New Zealand was 202-3 – still 24 runs behind and England remain favorites to force a seventh straight Test win.
But England’s position wasn’t as dominant as it was at the start of the game.
And there have been ongoing concerns about the condition of Ben Stokes’ left knee.
He threw two overs with mostly short deliveries, conceded 16 carries and then limped out of attack.
Stokes was even cautioned by the referees for exceeding his allowable ration of two bouncers per over.
The captain was obviously in pain and the chronic problem doesn’t seem to have gone away before this summer’s Ashes series.
Before taking on the Australians, Stokes is set to play in the Indian Premier League – where he has a £1.6million contract with Chennai Super Kings.
In the opening hour of Day 3 in Wellington, Kiwi captain Tim Southee hit a series of sixes on his way to 73 and his team increased their total to 209 from 138-7 overnight.
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Stuart Broad dropped all three wickets to finish with four innings.
Stokes decided to enforce the follow-on – a rarity in Test cricket these days – believing Jimmy Anderson and co could once again have a significant impact in beating the home team.
But left-handers Latham and Conway played with patience and skill, and were able to counter any move that took the bowlers off the field.
They took their stance to 149 before Conway was snapped by Jack Leach’s left arm by the ever-alert Ollie Pope on the short leg.
Then, three overs later, Latham was lbw to Joe Root’s off-spin. Latham missed a sweep shot and although he checked the decision, replays showed the ball hit the stump.
England were well on their way and had taken three wickets for 18 runs when Will Young was bowled by a beauty from Leach.
But master batsman Williamson and Leftie Nicholls persevered to the end and have hit 35 runs in 21.2 overs so far.
New Zealand’s bold defensive batting was a direct contrast to England’s bazball methods – but it proved effective.
England assistant manager Paul Colllingwood said: “New Zealand have fought really hard and it’s been an exciting day of cricket and a lot of effort for us.
“Tim Southee’s counter-attack was very effective and we didn’t get the wickets we were hoping for. But we’re still in good shape.
“Stokesy has always thought about enforcing the succession.
“He believed it was the positive approach and he was trying to win the match today. His knee problem is always there, but he knows how to deal with it.
“He’s always ready to bowl, but he trusts the other bowlers.
“That pitch did a lot in the morning session so hopefully with some fresh legs we can make some breakthroughs tomorrow.”
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/7493528/new-zealand-england-second-test-ben-stokes-knee/ New Zealand thwarts England’s hopes of winning their second Test in three days as Ben Stokes struggles with his left knee