Cricket-England ride fifties to lead of 368 in first test

February 18, 2023 04:33 PM AEDT | By Reuters
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(Reuters) -England rode a trio of half centuries to a strong position with a lead of 368 runs after the second session on the third day of the day-night first test against New Zealand at Bay Oval on Saturday.

Harry Brook, Joe Root and Ben Foakes all reached 50 only to depart soon afterwards as a resilient New Zealand kept pegging back the tourists, ultimately reducing them to 349 for eight in their second innings at the dinner break.

Ollie Pope earlier fell one run short of the half century mark as he led an early onslaught of England's trademark "bazball" against an under-strength home bowling attack.

Neil Wagner (2-110) came in for particular punishment in the opening session as first Pope and then Brook (54) flayed the quick's bowling for a series of sixes and fours and England added 158 runs to their overnight tally.

Woakes, promoted above his captain Ben Stokes in the batting order, slowed the pace in the second session and made 51 off 80 balls before he was caught behind to give debutant Blair Tickner his third wicket of the innings.

Ollie Robinson was 30 not out at dinner alongside Jack Leach, who was unbeaten on two.

Stokes earlier scored a bright 31 off 33 and moved past his coach Brendon "Baz" McCullum as the most prolific scorer of sixes in test cricket history with his 108th maximum.

Wagner could have dismissed him on the next delivery but his miserable day continued when he caught the England skipper on the boundary only to fall over the rope and give Stokes his 109th test six.

Offspinner Michael Bracewell had Stokes stumped to earn his second wicket of the day after he had induced Joe Root into a top edge just before the first break to send the former England captain back for 57.

England, chasing a 10th win in 11 tests under former New Zealand skipper McCullum, will look to extend their lead further after the break before having a crack at the home top order under the lights.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney; Editing by Stephen Coates)


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