Tom Latham frustrates England with another ton

New Zealand opener Tom Latham benefited from being dropped on 66 to amass a century before tea on the opening day of the second Test at Hamilton.

Latham (101no) was given a let-off when Ben Stokes allowed an outside edge to burst through his hands, and the left-handed batsman made use of the drop to register his first Test century against England.

A 116-run partnership alongside Ross Taylor (53) was the backbone of New Zealand’s 173 for three at the end of the second session after they had been asked to bat first, with England captain Joe Root seduced by “live grass” on the wicket.

England made two early breakthroughs on Friday morning but it was a frustrating afternoon for the tourists and one compounded by Ben Stokes bowling only two overs, seemingly inhibited by pain in his left knee.

New Zealand England Cricket
New Zealand England Cricket

Chris Woakes was the pick of the bowlers with two for 41, including the prize scalp of Black Caps captain Kane Williamson, after being recalled at the expense of Jack Leach, leaving England without a frontline spinner.

Jos Buttler’s back injury precluded his involvement, with Ollie Pope taking wicketkeeping duties and Zak Crawley handed an unexpected Test debut – although his most significant involvement was conceding four overthrows after a woeful shy at the stumps.

Pope, though, was diligent behind the wickets and conceded only four byes to a Jofra Archer bouncer any specialist wicketkeeper would have had difficulty reeling in.

Stuart Broad and Archer were able to extract movement early on, and the former made the breakthrough when Jeet Raval committed a flat-footed waft and edged to Root, who took a simple catch at first slip.

Root’s next take was much less straightforward, diving superbly to his right to pluck the ball above the turf after Woakes had induced the outside edge of Williamson, who departed for four to leave the Kiwis on 39 for two.

Archer was once again down on speed, topping at 88.1mph, but did trouble Taylor on occasions with the short ball. Sam Curran was expensive, bowling too straight to Latham in particular.

Latham was all too happy to oblige anything leg-side by routinely clipping through midwicket and he reached an 87-ball fifty from the delivery before lunch.

Earlier in the over, he was given out on 49 when rapped on the pad by Woakes but the decision was overturned when it was shown the ball had pitched outside leg.

New Zealand England Cricket
New Zealand England Cricket

Taylor looked plumb in front on 25 but a review showed a spike on Snicko, albeit one that appeared after the ball had passed the bat, raising questions as to whether there was enough evidence to overturn the original decision.

Latham was shelled by a diving Stokes at second slip off Archer shortly afterwards, and frustration started to creep in after Taylor had reached his fifty with a fine tickle off Woakes.

However, he was dismissed from the next ball after flashing hard and edging to slip where Root took his third catch of the day.

Latham was proving a trickier prospect and he moved to his 11th Test century and fifth in his last 10 innings.