Mitchell and Watling bring up 50s as New Zealand press on in Hamilton

Half-centuries from Daryl Mitchell and BJ Watling led New Zealand’s recovery on day two of the second Test against England in an attritional afternoon session at Hamilton.

Black Caps opener Tom Latham added just four more to his overnight 101 as the hosts lurched to 191 for five before a stand of 124 from Test debutant Mitchell and Watling underpinned a teatime total of 315 for six.

Watling was England’s tormentor in Mount Maunganui with a double century although he was removed from the final ball before tea for 55, with Test debutant Mitchell on 63 not out after overcoming a nervy start.

England’s decision to bring Ben Stokes into the bowling attack on Saturday seemed a risky ploy after he was visibly discomforted by a knee injury on day one, with the series against South Africa that counts towards the World Test Championship looming.

However, he bowled an economical spell of 5-3-3-0 in the first session and got through six overs in the afternoon, showing few signs of being troubled by his knee, which was heavily strapped in the warm-up.

It was initially thought he would be restricted to a fielding brief only as New Zealand resumed on 173 for three, with play starting half an hour earlier after an afternoon thunderstorm that had curtailed day one.

Latham lasted just nine balls before leaving a straight one, his rare misjudgement allowing Stuart Broad to clip the top of off-stump.

Henry Nicholls then carelessly fell into Sam Curran’s short-ball trap on 16, hooking the left-arm seamer to Broad at long leg, while the England youngster also induced the outside edge of Watling, only for the ball to bounce in front of wicketkeeper Ollie Pope.

New Zealand’s Daryl Mitchell
New Zealand’s Daryl Mitchell

Mitchell’s first ball in Test cricket caught the edge but dropped well short of second slip and he then missed a hook at Curran before being all ends up by Chris Woakes – all within the first seven balls.

However, he gradually found his footing alongside the unflustered Watling and Mitchell served notice of his intent with a sumptuous six down the ground off Joe Denly’s part-time leg-spin.

The second new ball came and went with no reward for England, who stuck diligently to their task, Woakes yielding just six runs in a seven-over spell either side of the lunch interval.

Stokes was called upon for the second time to little avail while Jofra Archer mixed up a short-ball barrage with a few of his customary knuckle balls – to little impact.

Mitchell expertly crunched Stokes through the covers before pulling the all-rounder to bring up his half-century in his first Test innings.

Watling reached the milestone from 180 balls only to fall on the stroke of tea, fencing a shorter delivery from Broad that caught the top of the bat and flew to gully for Rory Burns to take a catch.