New Zealand off to steady start in record chase against England

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NZ vs ENG 2018: New Zealand Gets off to a Steady Start as Bad Light Dents England’s Victory Hopes 

NZ vs ENG 2018: New Zealand Gets off to a Steady Start as Bad Light Dents England’s Victory Hopes
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - APRIL 02: New Zealand batsman Jeet Raval pulls a Stuart Broad delivery towards the boundary during day four of the Second Test Match between the New Zealand Black Caps and England at Hagley Oval on April 2, 2018 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

New Zealand openers Jeet Raval and Tom Latham bright start dented England’s hopes of winning an overseas Test in 13 attempts.

Meanwhile, the match officials called off the day early with the bad light affecting England’s chances.

Despite an attempt to rage against the dying of the light, England skipper Joe Root brought spinner Jack Leech. However, the players left the field with New Zealand sitting pretty on 42 for 0.

The visiting team bowlers, however, gave a good fight but lacked the luck. James Anderson and Stuart Broad hounded the outside edge of both openers in another gruelling new-ball spell. Also, England was denied one clear-cut chance when James Vince dropped Latham diving on to his left.

However, Mark Wood showed intent but failed to hit proper line and length. Leech, who was beginning to get some reward for his accuracy when the umpires called time on England’s efforts.

NZ vs ENG 2018: New Zealand Gets off to a Steady Start as Bad Light Dents England's Victory Hopes 1
(Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, England lacked intent in their second essay having started the day with a lead of 231 runs. For the first in 90 minutes of the day, Root and Malan had batted with uncomplicated purpose. However, the Kiwis decision to delay the second new ball paid dividends.

First to go was Malan, caught at short midwicket, as Colin de Grandhomme tailed one into his pads from round the wicket. And in Neil Wagner’s very next over, Root flashed at a full-length outswinger and skimmed a thin nick through to BJ Watling, to put the seal on an intensely frustrating winter for England’s captain – seven fifty-plus scores in 13 innings, but no hundreds.

England’s untimely wickets continued, as Ben Stokes lofted one to mid-wicket of Grandhomme. But New Zealand’s hopes of stealing the ascendancy was hit by Johnny Bairstow gritty knock of 36.

NZ vs ENG 2018: New Zealand Gets off to a Steady Start as Bad Light Dents England's Victory Hopes 2
(Photo credit should read MARTY MELVILLE/AFP/Getty Images)

But the New Zealand bowlers chipped in with wickets consistently. Meanwhile, with Leach providing stubborn support, Bairstow turned on the afterburners. Bairstow smacked three four before top-edging Wagner to mid-wicket. This compelled Root to declare with a lead of 382 and an hour of the afternoon session still to come.

The first came with and went in a flurry of defensive shots with Latham and Raval seeing off the new ball. But if England went to tea believing that their breakthroughs were only a matter of time, the final session gave them yet more cause for doubt.

The host will need a further 340 runs for victory on the final day. However, with ten wickets in the bank, New Zealand will surely believe they can bat out for the draw that will secure them their first series win over England since 1999, and their first at home since 1983-84.

Brief Score: New Zealand 278 and 42 for 0 (Raval 17*, Latham 25*) need another 340 runs to beat England 307 and 352 for 9 dec (Vince 76, Stoneman 60)

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