WELLINGTON, Nov 23 (Reuters) - England captain Joe Root’s decision to introduce slow bowling into the attack paid immediate dividends as New Zealand advanced to 224-5 at lunch on the third day of the first test at Bay Oval on Saturday.
BJ Watling was on 45 and Colin de Grandhomme 14 not out at the break, with New Zealand still 129 runs behind England’s first innings of 353.
New Zealand had resumed on Saturday on 144-4 with Henry Nicholls on 26 after he passed concussion tests following a sickening blow on the helmet from a Jofra Archer bouncer just before the close of play on Friday.
Watling began on six and the pair had little trouble dealing with England’s pace attack in the first 80 minutes of play.
With the ball skidding on, Root brought in left arm spinner Jack Leach in an effort to slow the scoring and get through the overs quickly so they had the option of taking the second new ball before the break.
The tactic worked immediately with Nicholls given out lbw for 39 on Leach’s fifth delivery, only to have the decision overturned on review.
Root then brought himself on at the other end and managed from his flat off-spin to entice an edge from Watling, but Ben Stokes dropped the simple catch at first slip.
He then got a delivery to skid on against Nicholls two balls later and had the left hander trapped in front for 41, ending the 70-run partnership before Watling and de Grandhomme saw the hosts safely through to the break. (Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Daniel Wallis)