Blackcaps’ middle-order batsman Henry Nicholls made up for lost time yesterday as pouring rain only allowed 17 balls to be bowled throughout the entirety of day three. After bringing up his half-century in the over before the rain set in yesterday, Nicholls and New Zealand Wicket Keeper BJ Watling added further 27 this morning until Watling fell for 31 in his first test back from injury. England Wicket Keeper Jonny Bairstow doesn’t miss slightest of edges, and he didn’t miss Watling off the bowling of Stuart Broad.
The departure of Watling brought all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme to the crease and he wasted no time batting the only way he knows. Despite being given not out caught behind on 18 due to England having no reviews left, he was taken just five overs later in a great catch by Bairstow off the bowling of Craig Overton for 29 off 34 balls.
Nicholls brought up his second test match century and his first since the second test against South Africa at the basin this time last year. He reached the three-figure mark in the 127th over with a cut past backward point of the bowling of Moeen Ali.
Todd Astle and Tim Southee made handy scores of 18 and 25 respectively as they shared 32 and 72 run stands with Nicholls respectively.
New Zealand finally ended the punishment on the England bowlers as they declared on 427-8 after 141 overs with a substantial first innings lead of 369 runs. Nicholls returned to pavilion not out on his highest first-class score of 145. Exactly what he needed help nail down his position in this New Zealand side.
England’s second innings didn’t exactly get off to a bright start as Alistair Cook flicked down the leg side to Watling off the bowling of Trent Boult in the second over for 2 with the score at 6-1 after 2.5 overs. Fellow opening batsman Mark Stoneman and his skipper Joe Root put on 84 for the second wicket. Shortly after notching up his half-century Stoneman received a bouncer from Blackcaps’ paceman Neil Wagner. Which he hit down to Boult at long leg for 55.
Root and Dawid Malan added further 38 for the third wicket, which helped Root bring up his half-century. The duo looked to be going to last out day four and possibly carry England a tremendous way to a draw until a ball smacked the bottom hand of Joe Root. The very next ball he couldn’t get out of the way of another bouncer and snicked it through to Watling for 51 which was the close of play.
Malan is still there on 19 not out.
So England will head into day five now with an even bigger mountain to climb losing arguably their best batsman, and they still require another 237 runs to make New Zealand bat again.