England v New Zealand Day Four: England face fight to save Test

Mitch Santner followed up his maiden century for New Zealand with a late three-wicket burst to leave a chastened England facing a mountainous task to save the first Test in Mount Maunganui.

Santner had earlier driven England’s bowlers to distraction with an innings of 126 in a New Zealand record 261-run stand for the seventh wicket alongside BJ Watling, whose epic 205 spanned 473 balls and more than 11 hours.

The pair’s union took up almost the entire first two sessions of the fourth day as New Zealand declared on a mammoth 615 for nine and a first-innings lead of 262, before England lost both openers and nightwatchman Jack Leach in closing on 55 for three – still 207 in arrears.

Dom Sibley was suckered into playing well wide of off-stump on 12 as Santner and Watling combined again on a dream day for the pair, while Rory Burns senselessly slog swept to be caught at square-leg for 31.

Santner ended the penultimate day with three for six from 8.4 overs on a slow pitch showing signs of variable bounce and a hint of turn when Leach was adjudged bat-pad, as England were left needing to bat out the last day with only seven wickets in hand to escape with a draw.

Patience the building block

Watling and Santner only took 19 runs from the first hour of play, principally because Jofra Archer and Stuart Broad were nigh-on flawless on Sunday morning. Archer’s second ball was squirted away through gully for four by Watling but it was the only scoring shot off the rapid paceman in his six-over spell as he finished with 6-5-4-0. Broad opened with three successive maidens and was unfortunate a Santner edge flew over slip. Fine margins.

Watling unperturbed by short stuff

New Zealand England Cricket
New Zealand England Cricket

Archer returned for a two-over burst before lunch and clattered Watling in the helmet. However, following the concussion tests, Watling had a measure of revenge with a four two balls later – the only two deliveries of the morning session where Archer went for runs. It was a different story in the afternoon as Watling and Santner upped the tempo.

Watling rest is short-lived

New Zealand England Cricket
New Zealand England Cricket

Watling’s innings came to an end after 668 minutes while the declaration was not long after. However, Watling, who became the first New Zealand wicketkeeper to amass a double century and the first to do so against England, was spared an immediate return to the field as Tom Latham took the gloves when Burns and Sibley walked out to bat. It was a brief rest, though, and he proved there was no keeping him out the game when Santner made the breakthrough.

Missed reprieve for Leach

New Zealand England Cricket
New Zealand England Cricket

Another wretched day for England ended on an appropriately low note as Jack Leach was given out from the final ball of the day. However, Hot Spot showed no mark on Leach’s bat or glove while RTS failed to detect a noise, meaning the decision would have been overturned had the nightwatchman opted to review. There was some consultation with Joe Denly but Leach ultimately decided to accept the umpire’s decision.

What’s next?

November 25: New Zealand v England, day five of the first Test at Mount Maunganui, where the tourists face a battle to keep the series level, heading into the second and final match at Hamilton.