28th over: England 151-4 (Root 27, Brook 3) Brook pulls one off Wagner and just about manages to get away with it, the ball flying over the fingertips of the leaping man at square leg.
27th over: England 145-4 (Brook 0, Root 25) Brook is in and Kuggeleijn finds the outside edge, but the ball drops just short off Nicholls at gully.
“Morning Taha!” Good morning to you, too, James Walsh.
“Just back from seeing my girlfriend do a sellout show at the Vault Festival in London; adrenaline = she’ll be awake for a while so I am in insomniac cricket mode.
“Has Joe Root quite adjusted to this brave new world? For the life of me I’d love to see him just play his natural game and get a hundred here.”
Hope the show went well! As for Joe’s own performance, he has been quiet of late but I don’t mind him getting all funky with those reverse scoops etc. He’s just so good that he’ll still score big runs playing that way, too – it’s just a matter of time before the score comes.
WICKET! Pope c Blundell b Wagner 49 (England 144-4)
So Wagner’s not been discarded – he’s just changed ends. New Zealand aren’t giving up on the short-ball ploy, just switching up the angles to see if anything changes. Pope pulls away for single off the first ball of the over, and Root then copies him. Pope then makes room for an off-side smash, and nails it for four. And then another one: Wagner is short once again, and Pope crossbats the ball over mid-on for four more. And then… out! Can you believe it! It’s another short ball of course, and Pope, on 49, gloves it behind, with Blundell holding one down low.
26th over: England 144-4 (Root 24, Brook 0)
25th over: England 134-3 (Pope 40, Root 23) Kuggeleijn has the ball for his first over of the day, getting some lift to beat Pope’s outside edge with his second ball of the over. A single brings up the fifty partnership, off just 38 balls.
24th over: England 130-3 (Pope 38, Root 21) Southee goes full, Pope shimmies down and whips through the leg-side for one. Root also makes use of his crease, advancing forward only to block one out.
“Morning Taha.” Morning, Brian Withington!
“Hope you are being warmed vicariously by the cricket in the NZ sunshine (if not your two blankets)? A further question – England to declare half an hour into third session, if not already dismissed?”
I’ve got a feeling they’ll have blazed their way to quite a few by then without any survivors.
23rd over: England 128-3 (Pope 37, Root 20) Now it’s Joe’s turn! Wagner goes short and Root gets inside the line of the ball to hook away for six over fine leg. And Pope wants more of the same! Wagner goes around the wicket and gets some serious lift, but Pope swats away and the ball flies for another six over the fine-leg region. Wagner’s going for it, England are taking it on and winning the battle.
22nd over: England 112-3 (Root 12, Pope 29) Root plays his most convincing stroke so far, advancing down the pitch to clip Southee through midwicket for four. Delightful timing.
21st over: England 107-3 ( Root 7, Pope 29) Pope sees the short ball coming and gets into shape quickly to pull Wagner for six! And then he makes room for an off-side slash to the short ball, picking up a single at third man. Pope then lands one for six again (!), getting into the perfect position for another leg-side swat over fine leg.
20th over: England 91-3 (Pope 15, Root 5) Root gets lucky, finding four with an inside edge off Southee. You can see a smidgen of outswing from the New Zealand captain, and he uses it to trick Root with the closing delivery of the over, moving one back in to beat Root’s unconvincing prod.
19th over: England 83-3 (Root 1, Pope 15) Joe Root gets a welcome of bumpers from Wagner and finds the middle with the final ball of the over, pulling to get off the mark with a single.
Heather Greenstreet writes in to assure me that I’ve got some company over the next few hours: “Just to let you know that people in the UK are staying awake and following your commentary.”
WICKET! Broad c Nicholls b Wagner 7 (England 82-3)
Wagner strikes! Broad adds just one to his overnight total, unable to keep out a bouncer that was always coming for him, the ball lobbing up off the bat for a simple catch at gully.
18th over: England 82-2 (Broad 7, Pope 15) Southee takes the ball from the other end and opts for a fuller length than Wagner. After having a bit of a look at Southee’s lines and lengths, Pope shimmies down the pitch to a ball outside off but can’t get it off the middle.
17th over: England 82-2 (Pope 15, Broad 7) Neil Wagner begins with a back-of-the-length delivery… and he oversteps. It’s shortish again with the first legitimate delivery of the day, and Broad is well behind it. He then pokes to third man for a single, the first run off the bat today. Wagner persists with his own brand of short-ball havoc, but Pope survives.
Andrew Benton has high hopes:
Neil Wagner will have a go first up.
Stuart Broad strolls out with his weapon of choice, Ollie Pope keeping him company. Oh man, it really does look a beautiful day in Mount Maunganui – blue skies, sunshine, the whole lot. And I’m typing this while wrapped up in two blankets. Sigh.
Anyway, let’s get going!
In case you missed what happened yesterday:
Right then, who’s joining me and Matt Smith for the night? It’s a late one in England, but one worth staying up for because we’ve got a proper Test match on the cards. England are 79-2 in their second innings, leading by 98, and they’re not going to build on that quietly. First up, some more Hawkish nonsense from Stuart Broad.
Join you in a bit – if you’re going to keep me company email in/feel free to slide into my DMs.