|Scorecard:||England v New Zealand|
|Event:||New Zealand in England 2015|
By Andy Jalil at Headingley
New Zealand level the series with 199-run victory
Leeds A match that had innumerable twists and turns finally went New Zealands way bringing them victory by the comfortable margin of 199 runs, two hours into the final session of play. It was their first Test win in England in 16 years and it was primarily the weather, which had caused 67 overs to be lost on the previous day and heavy overnight rain that had threatened to stand between them and victory to level the two-Test series.
For England it was a mammoth task to win as they needed 411 further runs in 98 overs after resuming on 44 without loss or bat the whole of the final day to save the match. As it turned out there was no sign of rain and the game concluded in bright sunshine with the England innings ending on 255 after wickets had been falling at regular intervals. The fall of Englands wickets began as early as the fourth over, after just three runs had been added to the overnight score.
The centurion of the first innings, Adam Lyth got a faint outside edge to a ball from Trent Boult which only had a slight away movement from the left hander. It took a further nine overs during which England progressed by 14 runs before New Zealand struck again with Gary Ballance receiving a ball of full length which took the inside edge and grazed his back pad before crashing into the stumps.
On 62 England lost two wickets, both to the off spin of Mark Craig, the first was of Ian Bell who has been out of form in this series with scores of 1 and 29 in the first Test and in this Test 12 and 1. It wasnt a particularly dangerous ball from Craig, with very little turn, which Bell simply dabbed to backward short leg. Two balls later he struck again with Joe Root departing without scoring. There was more turn on the ball this time which Root edged to short leg. The ball struck Tom Latham on the chest and he did well to grab hold of it.
England would have hoped that Ben Stokes, the hero of the previous Test would steady the innings which appeared to be disintegrating rapidly. He did so for a while, adding 40 runs for the fifth wicket, of which he had 29 from 51 balls. Along with Cook, he had held the fall of wickets for 16 overs before Kane Williamson in his first over, replacing Craig, had Stokes top edging a ball that had bounced a little, into Luke Ronchis gloves. It was the penultimate over before lunch and England were 102 for five.
Just under an hour after the break, Cook, having occupied the crease for three-and-three-quarter hours, during which he reached his 41st Test half century, was pinned in front of the stumps by Williamson. He asked for a review of the umpires decision but that did not help and replays showed the ball hitting the top of middle stump. It was a patient innings as circumstance warranted during which he faced 171 balls, hitting four boundaries.
Jos Buttler meanwhile had got up to 19 which included three boundaries, all off Craig. He went down the wicket to clip the first one to mid-wicket and two balls later flicked to square leg. In Craigs next over he cut to cover point. Moeen Ali lost his wicket as a result of a misjudgement. He decided to leave a ball from Matt Henry which was of full length and went straight on to hit off stump reducing England to 153 for seven.
Stuart Broad, dragged a ball from Williamson on to his stumps on 23 while Buttler had moved on to 32. The sun had begun to appear periodically throughout the afternoon much to New Zealands joy and they would have been justified in thinking that victory was not far off. But it wasnt until an hour-and-a-half into the final session that the tourists claimed the ninth wicket. Tim Southee had Mark Wood edge to second slip on the total of 230.
Finally, Buttlers resistance came to an end, lbw to Craig, after a commendable innings of 73 spanning three hours during which he faced 147 balls and 58 of his runs had come from boundaries including the only six of the innings. Craig and Williamson both finished with 3 wickets each for 73 from 31.5 overs and 15 from 7 overs respectively.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2015 Andy Jalil)