The second day at Leeds produced a brilliant display of test cricket with Cook finding his place at 13th in the all time list of players with highest runs scored in test cricket. The English team, who were sitting confidently at 215-1, lost their way in the last session and after the new ball was taken, were reduced to 253/5 by the end of the day.
With Buttler and Bell spending some time at the crease, England would have been confident of reducing the deficit to a bare minimum but New Zealand and Tim Southee assisted by some overcast weather had other ideas. He picked Bell early in the second over of the day for 12 and then a few over later picked Butler for 10 and Ali for 1 in a span of 4 balls and reduced England to 267/8 trailing by 83 runs in the first innings.
Broad and Wood came together as the end looked inevitable. However the New Zealand pair of Southee and Boult looked to have lost their lines and gifted some runs to Broad and Wood who looked more and more comfortable on the crease as they spent more time.
McCullum then introduced some spin to stem the flow of runs and reaped the benefits in less than 2 over’s as Craig got an edge of Wood with a quicker delivery. After Wood was dismissed for a determined 19, a partnership of 51 runs was broken and England was still trailing by 32 runs.
Broad continued to play his shots and fell 4 runs short of his half century as he heaved and missed a straight ball from Matt Henry who dismantled the stumps. Broad’s innings made this test match one of the most intriguing in the recent times as it left England level on scores with New Zealand. At 350, England equaled the score by New Zealand and left the game to start as it was at the beginning.
After the break, England came out positively and New Zealand were not allowed to score freely. Broad picked Latham for 3 in the 6th over. Few over’s later, Broad found the edge of the inform Kane Williamson and reduced New Zealand to 23/2 in 10 over’s.
However Taylor who was dropped on 6, made England pay with a partnership of 99 runs along with Guptil, at almost a run a ball. However Wood picked him up on 48 runs at run a ball which bought McCullum in with New Zealand at 122/3, 122 runs in the lead.
McCullum who blazed his way in the first three innings in this tour decided early to play a sensible knock after missing a few swings at Wood. The time left in the game also helped his decision. However he lost Guptill for 70 who played a poor shot on a delivery from Wood. This left New Zealand worried at 141/4.
But in walked BJ Watling who was in great form. He and McCullum shared a partnership in which they complimented each other. Watling who was outscoring McCullum lifted the pressure off the shoulders of his captain.
However, Wood who continued his good worked took McCullum’s wicket with an in-swinger that hit him on the pads, McCullum, who reviewed the decision,had to go for a patient 55 with NZ at 262/5. This ended a partnership of 121 runs between the pair.
Watling continued to play his game even as Luke Ronchi came in and decided to take the attack to the opposition. With NZ already at 309, Cook turned to Jimmy Anderson and he obliged straight away finding Ronchi’s edge with a ripper. Ronchi was gone for a well made 31.
At 338/6 England are already looking at a huge chase and their hopes of cleaning up the tail was postponed as NZ ended the day with no more damage at 338/6. Meanwhile, Watling reached his century in 136 balls and has made sure NZ have the advantage in the test. This game, if chased down by England will already be the 2nd highest run chase ever in Leeds.
The game is slightly balanced towards New Zealand but few early wickets tomorrow and a disciplined batting effort may well see England finish the series 2-0.