Test Finely Balanced After Entertaining Day
It was a day of twists and turns at Lord’s as New Zealand began the day with the advantage, surrendered it briefly to England, before regaining it and then losing it for a large part of the afternoon and evening. However, there was a late and unexpected twist as Tim Southee sparked a collapse of four for 12 to leave the Test evenly poised heading into day four.
Joe Root and Jonathan Trott had helped England bounce back from the loss of both openers in quick succession after lunch and looked to have taken the game irretrievably away from New Zealand.
Southee, though, had other ideas and began to find a bit of in-drift to the right-hander. He sent Root and new man Jonny Bairstow packing via an inside edge onto the stumps, and then helped Matt Prior complete a rare Lord’s pair by enticing him to pull down deep square-leg’s throat, where substitute Martin Guptill took the catch.
Trott then completed the collapse when he was bowled out of the rough by off-spinner Kane Williamson to end his dogged resistance at 56. He and Root appeared to have restored an air of normality to proceedings as they added 123 for the third-wicket.
Root was the more fluent of the pair but both seemed determined for there not be a repeat of the day one snooze-fest. The 22 year-old brought up his fifty from 78 balls and looked set for a debut Lord’s ton before he was the first domino to fall in England’s horror half hour.
England, of course, weren’t helped by the fact that Ian Bell spent much of the day on his sickbed and was forced down the order to number eight before emerging reluctantly minutes before the close. He faced four balls and survived, with night-watchman Steven Finn unbeaten on six and the home side’s lead standing at a modest 205 runs.
England had been the first team to strike at the start of the day as Stuart Broad benefited from a loose drive by Brendon McCullum to get his first wicket of the match.
With the danger man gone they would have been a little happier, albeit still mindful of the threat posed by Kane Williamson. He was dropped again but reached his fifty before starting a collapse of five for 30 that rivalled England’s in the first innings by tickling a ball from James Anderson down the leg-side.
Tim Southee came and went amid a flurry of shots. He struck three boundaries before trying a fourth and only succeeding in finding Joe Root and cover.
Bruce Martin then received what David Gower termed, "the ball of the day, the ball of the season, the ball of the century if you like" from Anderson when he had yet to score. After setting him up with a couple of in-duckers, he pitched one on off and caused it to straighten and knock over his off-pole. That gave Anderson a five-wicket haul - his fourth at Lord’s, his favourite hunting ground.
Steven Finn quietly picked up wickets at the other end. He had been the beneficiary of Southee’s looseness and also picked up BJ Watling courtesy of a waft and last man Trent Boult, who was practically cowed into submission as Finn found some pace and hostility.
New Zealand’s late collapse gave England an unexpected lead of 25 runs, but by stumps, they were left wishing it had been more.
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