England captain Ben Stokes tried his luck when he teamed up with his predecessor Joe Root to stage a thrilling rally at Lord’s on Saturday to dramatically close the first test against New Zealand.
England were 216 for five at stumps on the third day, needing just 61 more runs to reach a 277 win target, but there were no more recognized batsmen to get in.
In what is Stokes’ first game as skipper since he succeeded Root, England famously collapsed to be 69 for four, with towering pacer Kyle Jamieson taking four for 49.
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Stokes himself may have been out for one after playing on opposing all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme, but was reprieved by a marginal no-ball call.
He then celebrated his 31st birthday with a handsome 54 — England’s first 50 of this match — while star batsman Root 77 was not looking for stumps after the good friends had used 90 for the fifth wicket.
Wicket-keeper Ben Foakes then kept Root company with an unbeaten nine out of 48 balls.
England, who are bottom of the World Test Championship table after winning just one of their previous 17 games, now have the chance to take a 1-0 lead in this three-game streak.
Previously, England great Stuart Broad caused a sensational collapse in New Zealand after Daryl Mitchell made a hundred when the world test champion, who was 251 for four, was sacked for 285.
But by this time, Mitchell, who made 108, and Tom Blundell (96) had shared a score of 195 – more than New Zealand (132) or England (141) in their first innings.
Mitchell insisted that the hosts would let the hosts do their thing on Sunday in what will also be former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum’s first game as England test coach.
“Morning is the hardest time to hit,” Mitchell told BBC radio† “Hopefully the ball will spin and give us a chance to win the game.
“We know we are one wicket away from their bowlers.”
– ‘Game on’ –
Broad, meanwhile, was pleased to have England back in the game.
“It’s game-on, isn’t it?” he said. “Stokesy played a really good knockout and if he was still there it would be almost game over but it was great bowling from Jamieson.”
He added: “Root has been so reliable for years, he calms the locker room and has the key tomorrow (Sunday).”
Jamieson removed openers Alex Lees and Zak Crawley before Ollie Pope fell cheap for the second time this match, thrown by a superb ball from the fast left-armed Trent Boult.
And when Jamieson cleared Jonny Bairstow, England faltered 69 for four on a good pitch and sunny conditions seemingly ideal for hitting.
New Zealand was one bowler behind when the hapless de Grandhomme ran off with a heel injury and left arm spinner Ajaz Patel, who had taken all 10 India wickets at his final test in Mumbai in December, saw Stokes slog-sweep a six out of just his second delivery on Saturday.
But Stokes, trying to uppercut a rising short from Jamieson, leaving him tight for space, flied out to wicketkeeper Blundell.
The unobtrusive Root then completed a 107-ball fifty, taking one more ball to get to the landmark than Stokes.
New Zealand had resumed at 236 for four, ahead of 227.
Mitchell was 97 not out overnight and Blundell undefeated at 90 after they got together with the Black Caps in trouble at 56 for four.
The 31-year-old wasted no time reaching his second Test century and first abroad, driving Broad for three of his first ball Saturday to pick up a 189-ball hundred, including 11 fours. .
After waiting 366 deliveries to take the fifth wicket, England then astonishingly collected three in three balls.
Broad, recalled with James Anderson after England’s two leading Test wicket-takers were controversially omitted from a run in the Caribbean, had taken Mitchell from behind, pitching Jamieson to either side of Pope walking out of the Grandhomme.
Blundell, a helpless observer as the wickets tumbled down, brought his score to 96, but fell just under a hundred when he attacked Anderson directly.
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