LONDON (Reuters) - The New Zealand pace attack bowled with great discipline as England crawled to 160 for four on a tense and absorbing opening day of the first test at Lord’s on Thursday.
No England batsman reached 40 and no partnership realised more than 45, the hosts adopting an ultra-cautious approach in tough conditions after winning the toss on the first day of the two-match series.
Jonathan Trott top-scored for England with 39, Alastair Cook made 32 and Ian Bell 31 but run-scoring on a slow pitch proved tricky on a bright and sunny day at the home of cricket.
Joe Root, on 25, and Jonny Bairstow, three, were the not out batsmen when rain ended play 10 overs early.
Left-armer Trent Boult was the pick of the New Zealand bowlers with figures of two for 29 from 17 overs, including the prize wickets of Cook and Trott.
“It was a pretty successful day for us, as a bowling group we did our job,” the 23-year-old Boult told a news conference.
”We bowled 30 maidens, bowled in pretty good areas and didn’t give them too much to hit.
“We were pretty excited about playing at Lord’s and I was nervous in the first hour but I got into a better rhythm after lunch and it was pretty special to get Trott and Cook out.”
England, outplayed in the recent 0-0 series draw in New Zealand, lost Nick Compton for 16 in the morning session as the touring side’s pace bowlers Tim Southee, Boult and Neil Wagner gave little away.
Compton became frustrated and, trying to force spinner Bruce Martin over the top, he sliced a catch to Southee in the covers.
Only three boundaries were hit in the morning session and England survived another chance when Martin dropped Trott off his own bowling before the hosts limped to lunch at 56 for one.
Cook, captaining England for the first time in a test at the home of cricket, survived a huge shout for lbw off Boult when he had made 30, New Zealand calling for a review after umpire Aleem Dar rejected their appeal.
Two runs later, however, Cook’s 115-ball innings ended when he misjudged a seaming delivery from Boult and wicketkeeper BJ Watling snapped up a sharp catch.
Trott struck six well-timed fours but he was undone just before tea by the fifth delivery of Boult’s third spell which moved sharply off the pitch.
The right-hander misjudged the line and edged the ball to third slip where Dean Brownlie swooped to take a fine low catch.
England resumed after the interval on 113 for three and Bell and Root continued to struggle to disrupt the accurate New Zealand attack which was supported by sharp ground fielding.
Bell played a couple of sumptuous drives through the covers but he nibbled at a wide ball from Wagner and gave Watling a simple catch.
The 22-year-old Root, in prime form this season with 646 runs, rarely looked in trouble, moving on to 25 off 72 balls before rain caused play to be abandoned.
“It was tough, not what you expect on day one at Lord’s with a whitish pitch and slower than normal,” Trott said.
”New Zealand bowled well and we combated it ok. We played a normal game and had to adjust to the conditions. We weren’t trying to be particularly cautious.
“They used the conditions to their advantage,” Trott added. “Boult bowled nicely at a brisk pace and it was a pretty good ball that got me. Maybe I pushed at it a bit.”
Editing by John Mehaffey