Watling double, England in trouble: Highlights from NZ vs ENG 1st Test

Looking at New Zealand’s batting scorecard halfway through their first innings, one would have imagined England were beginning to take control of the 1st Test at the Bay Oval. With half their side back in the hut, the Kiwis were up against England’s 353 that seemed miles away. But as is often the case, New Zealand found their saviour in BJ Watling. By the start of Day 5, the Englishmen found themselves battling for survival. Mount Maunganui’s maiden Test deservedly went to the hosts.

From Neil Wagner’s fiery spells to BJ Watling’s marathon knock (and of course, Mitchell Santner’s all-round contribution), here are some highlights from New Zealand’s memorable win over England in the 1st Test:

Arise, Neil Wagner

While Tim Southee remains one of the pace spearheads in New Zealand’s bowling attack, Neil Wagner has set off on a journey of his own. The left-arm fast bowler claimed eight wickets in the match, with the second innings bringing him his eighth five-wicket haul in Test cricket. His first wicket in the Test was England captain Joe Root, whose horrific run with the bat has continued down under. Wagner’s fifer in the second innings came on the final day of the Test, ultimately ending England’s resistance with the bat.

 BJ Watling – New Zealand’s saviour-in-charge

There are some players who’re often hyped for no reason, and then there’s BJ Watling. The wicketkeeper-batsman hasn’t gotten enough credit for his work behind the stumps as well as in front. Yet, every now and then, the 34-year-old puts his hand up and bails his team out of trouble. This time was no different. Watling’s herculean innings of 205 lasted 667 minutes and 473 deliveries across two days of the Test. It was also the first Test double hundred of his career, one that he can proudly cherish for the rest of his life.

Mitchell Santner – He’s everywhere!

Of course, Watling’s super knock needed an able partner and it was none other than Mitchell Santner, who has periodically upped his batting game as well. The left-arm spinner did not fetch a single wicket in the first innings but more than made up for it with his maiden Test century, breaking a slew of records for New Zealand. He did return to bowling form in the second, bagging three wickets and plucking a blinder in the covers to dismiss Olli Pope on Day 5.

England’s batting fragility exposed

In what turned out to be a disappointing affair for them, England had their fair share of positives. Joe Denly scored a crucial half-century in the first innings and top-scored with a gritty 35 in the second. At a time when their captain failed to capitalise, Denly showed glimpses of promise. But their problems with the bat were far more evident. Seven of their 10 wickets in the first innings were taken either in the slip cordon or in the hands of the wicketkeeper. And if that wasn’t enough proof of England’s misery with the bat, Jos Buttler’s horrific leave on the final day summed it up.


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