Stokes’ England fight after New Zealand resistance from Mitchell and Blundell sees tourists build dangerous lead

BEN STOKES has experienced a fair amount of emotions as England captain, but too many of them involve frustration and disappointment.

New captain Stokes has to think after just two days on the job – how the hell did we let New Zealand off the hook in that game?

Ben Stokes reacts during the game

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Ben Stokes reacts during the gamePhoto credit: Getty
New Zealander Daryl Mitchell hits the ball

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New Zealander Daryl Mitchell hits the ballPhoto credit: Reuters

England were in full control at various times on day one, but by the end of day two of the first test at Lord’s it was the Kiwi visitors who had taken control.

England collapsed terribly in the first innings and yesterday a couple of mostly unannounced blackcaps batters kept Stokes and his bowlers struggling and struggling.

Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell tied at 56-4 and pitched 180 for the fifth wicket. Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad had already won a wicket and Matthew Potts had two – including Kiwi captain Kane Williamson for the second time in the match.

But the pair transformed the match. For the first time batsmen were at the top, bowlers searched in vain for wickets.

The pitch looked flat, the ball soft and England seemed lacking in ideas and inspiration. What a contrast to the first four sessions which yielded an incredible 23 wickets.

Mitchell is the son of former All Blacks No. 8 and England assistant coach John Mitchell and he tormented England for the second game in a row.

Remember, he was the man who scored 72 goals and guided New Zealand to victory over England in the semi-finals of the Twenty20 World Cup in Abu Dhabi last November. His ff drove for four from Potts’ last ball of the day, leaving him just three just under a century

Blundell was equally impressive, particularly strong on the pull shot when bowlers fell short. He’s not out in 90.

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New Zealand begins Day 3 236-4 with a dangerous 227 lead.

Blundell said: “It was a difficult situation getting together but me and Daryl were trying to build a partnership and show intention.

“I just did my thing – tuned in positively – and things got easier as we got the bowlers into their second and third periods. Me and Daryl still have a big task tomorrow to try and extend our lead as much as possible because the pitch is still not that easy to beat.”

Stokes’ men need to bat much better than they did in the first innings for England to win from here. In fact, a lot better than they’ve beaten in recent years.

New Zealand was 45-7 and 56-4 in their two innings and is still in command. That’s largely because England lost five wickets for eight runs and all ten wickets for 82 in their first innings on Thursday night.

Earlier in the day, England’s first innings, so badly wounded by their collapse, lasted just another 6.5 overs. That made 20 wickets in the first 82.5 overs of the game.

Broad missed an attempted slog, Ben Foakes got the first slip and Matt Parkinson also grabbed a catch after a delightful straight drive for four to slip.

England led in the first innings by just nine runs. When they were 59-0, it looked like it would be 209 runs.

As New Zealand batted a second time, Anderson made his inevitable early breakthrough when his seventh delivery drew an edge from opener Will Young.

Potts removed Williamson again. Williamson appears to be out of form – a rarity for one of the world’s top batsmen – and he attempted an ambitious rearfoot power that ended on the third slip at the hands of Jonny Bairstow.

Potts struck again when left-hander Tom Latham trailed. Lathan reviewed the decision, but no one seemed to know why – he clearly edged the ball.

Broad followed when Devon Conway gloved a short ball down the side of the leg to wicketkeeper Foakes. The Strangle left the Blackcaps 56-4 and England considered the possibility of a two-day finish.

But Mitchell and Blundell put together their partnership with skill, patience, and plenty of flair, and suddenly the batting looked like a far less dangerous pursuit.

The pitch seemed to be losing any poison it might have – which wasn’t much – and the ball stopped swinging as the New Zealanders’ fifth pair of wickets kept going.

Parkinson got a maid bowl in Test cricket with his leg-spinners – to no avail – and skipper Stokes tried his tactic of pounding in bouncers and filling the legside boundary with fielders.

But Mitchell and Blundell were immobile and virtually flawless.

Stuart Broad chases the ball

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Stuart Broad chases the ballCredit: PA

https://www.the-sun.com/sport/5485435/stokes-england-new-zealand-mitchell-blundell/ Stokes’ England fight after New Zealand resistance from Mitchell and Blundell sees tourists build dangerous lead

ClareFora

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