Mitchell (97*), Blundell (90*) put New Zealand in control against England


England face an uphill task to win the first Test after New Zealand doggedly built an imposing lead on the second day at Lord’s.

Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell made the home side toil with an unbeaten partnership of 180 that took New Zealand to 236-4, 227 ahead.

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At 56-4 just after lunch, New Zealand’s lead stood at only 47, but Mitchell, with 97 not out, and Blundell’s unbeaten 90 ensured no further wickets fell in the day.

Earlier, England added 25 to their overnight 116-7 to be bowled out for 141, a first-innings advantage of nine.

Including their collapse on Thursday evening, the home side lost their last eight wickets for 49 runs.

England failed to capitalise on dismissing New Zealand for 132 on day one and the first Test under captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum is in severe danger of ending in defeat.

Calm restored as England toil

There was a time when this second day looked set to follow the helter-skelter nature of a first that saw 17 wickets fall.

Across the end of England’s first innings and the beginning of New Zealand’s second, seven more had gone at the beginning of the afternoon session and a two-day finish was a possibility.

Still, the pitch had been blameless for the calamitous batting from both teams and it always felt likely that, at some point, at least one player would put it to good use and make a telling contribution.

Instead, New Zealand found two, with Mitchell and Blundell showing all of the patience, determination and good judgement that had previously eluded almost every other batter in the match.

For a while in the afternoon, some proper Test match cricket broke out, a complete contrast to the fast-forward style that had reigned until that point.

England did little wrong, but as the attack tired and the ball softened, New Zealand were able to accelerate to a point where the game is probably already beyond the hosts.

Mitchell and Blundell punish England

In collapsing on Thursday, New Zealand looked rusty, tentative and uncertain, nothing like world Test champions.

They were in danger of a repeat on Friday – all of Will Young, Kane Williamson, Tom Latham and Devon Conway nicked off. In the case of captain Williamson, it was to England debutant Matthew Potts for the second time in the match.

With the Test hanging in the balance, Mitchell and Blundell absorbed the pressure, then put the Black Caps in control.

There were moments when Mitchell played rash drives at James Anderson and was briefly discomforted by short balls from Stokes, while Blundell looked skittish when leg-spinner Matt Parkinson came into the attack.

But both right-handers scored heavily through mid-wicket, with Blundell also playing some attractive strokes square on the off side.

They will each sleep on the verge of a Lord’s hundred, and with the prospect of facing the second new ball – England’s last hope – on Saturday morning. (BBC Sport)

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