ENGLAND could only rue missed chances as New Zealand’s batsmen took control on day two of the first Investec Test at Lord’s.
The Kiwis are ideally placed to move into a big first-innings lead after a dominant performance from their top four as openers Martin Guptill and Tom Latham and then third-wicket pair Kane Williamson (92no) and Ross Taylor shared stands of 148 and an unbroken 155.
The upshot was a stumps total of 303 for two in reply to 389 all out.
England’s bowlers kept their discipline for the most part but failed to find the swing which had helped their opposite numbers reduce the hosts to 30 for four at one stage 24 hours earlier.
They therefore needed to take their opportunities, but passed up three – Guptill (70) edging a no-ball to slip and Latham (59) dropped in the cordon, both in the 20s, while Stuart Broad missed a throw at the stumps in his follow-through which would have run out Taylor on nought.
Moeen Ali admitted cause for regret. “We’re obviously a little bit disappointed,” said the off-spinner. “Maybe [we could have bowled] a little bit better. [But] we didn’t field very well. If we took those chances ... it would have been a different game. But they played really well. It’s a flat pitch when the sun’s out, and it’s difficult to bowl at good players.”
England can only hope, therefore, that, with the second new ball available after just three more overs, they make the most of it.
Moeen added: “We’ll have to pick ourselves up, and know it’s very important to strike with that new ball. We need two or three wickets early.”
As for his own bowling, despite just Latham’s wicket at the cost of 52 runs, he was encouraged after struggling on his return from injury during two Tests in England’s drawn series in the West Indies. “It was better today. I was pretty happy with the way it was coming out,” he said. “I felt like there was a bit more rhythm.”
Moeen (58) completed his half-century before England were bowled out in the morning, from an unaccustomed new position of number eight – with Ben Stokes pushed up by captain Alastair Cook to six, where he made 92 on day one.
Moeen said: “I don’t mind where I bat. Stokesy deserves his chance at six. He’s done really well every time he’s batted there, so I’m easy – very easy. The good thing about batting number eight is that if you do bat with the tail it’s a bit of a licence to play a few shots. So I hope I’ll enjoy that.”
Debutant Mark Wood’s celebrations of a maiden wicket were painfully brief as Guptill was reprieved by the no-ball call. Guptill recovered his composure to almost triple his score in his first Test innings for almost two years.
He said: “Obviously, it was a bit of a nerve-wracking time, waiting for the umpire’s decision. He started nodding his head, and I started walking because I thought he was going to give me out.
“I was lucky he over-stepped the line by a fraction, and I got a second life. But I thought he [Wood] has some good stuff, some good skills, and could be a very menacing international bowler.
“The partnership between Tom and me really set the game up for us ... then the one between Kane and Ross, the way they picked up where we left off has really cemented our dominance of the day.”
ENGLAND First innings
M M Ali c Latham b Boult58
S C J Broad c Latham b Boult3
M A Wood not out8
J M Anderson c & b Henry11
Extras b16 lb6 w2 nb3 pens 027
Total (100.5 overs)389
Fall: 1-17, 2-25, 3-25, 4-30, 5-191, 6-251, 7-354, 8-363 9-368. Bowling: Boult 29-6-79-4; Southee 24-1-104-1; Henry 24.5-3-93-4; Craig 18-2-77-1; Anderson 5-1-14-0.
NEW ZEALAND First innings
M J Guptill c Ballance b Broad70
T W M Latham lbw b M M Ali59
K S Williamson not out92
L R P Taylor not out47
Extras b14 lb20 nb1 pens 035
Total 2 wkts (77 overs)303
Fall: 1-148, 2-148. Bowling: Anderson 16-4-46-0; Broad 16-2-42-1; Wood 13-0-60-0; Stokes 13-2-63-0; M M Ali 17-3-52-1; Root 2-0-6-0.