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Ben Stokes and Joe Denly set up the pavilion for England on opening day

Ben Stokes and Joe Denly set up the pavilion for England on opening day

There was a slight bobble during England’s innings and when Joe Denly and Ben Stokes walked out to bat in the final session, New Zealand had their sights set on making further inroads and cinching more wickets. However, the duo looked resilient post-Tea and had little problems as Denly soon ran to his fifty.

Joe Denly decided to attack Mitchell Santner who was only recently introduced to the bowling attack with the lofted shot to put him under pressure. New Zealand, desperately looking for a breakthrough, decided to go with the second new ball. Tim Southee did not fail to emulate the swing he got in the morning session and that earned him the wicket of Denly.

After the fall of Denly, Stokes decided to up the ante once he reached his half-century and showcased his diverse range of exquisite shots. Ross Taylor dropped Stokes at the slip which was extremely disappointing for the home side and having been given new life, Stokes steered England comfortably to the finish line on an opening day along with the help of Ollie Pope.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for England however as they found themselves in a tight spot when de Grandhomme and Neil Wagner picked two wickets to put England on the backfoot. At the start of the afternoon session, the two not-out batsmen, Rory Burns (52) and Denly, had to paddle through a tricky period when the duo found themselves in trouble against the pair of Wagner and Southee. Southee even induced the edge from Burns, only for it to fly through the small gap between first and second slip fielders – Ross Taylor and Tom Latham.

In hindsight, New Zealand’s pacers would rue the fact that they couldn’t take advantage of the swing on offer in the morning. After England opted to bat, Dominic Sibley, on his Test debut, and Burns set about laying a platform with an opening stand of 52. Sibley opened his account in Test cricket with a boundary through midwicket off Boult. With Sibley shuffling across towards the off-stump, New Zealand’s pacers made the mistake of bowling too straight and paid the price.

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