1st Test: Tom Blundell ton revies New Zealand but England claw back to grab initiative

Mount Maunganui : Tom Blundell struck his fourth Test century and Devon Conway scored 77 to rescue New Zealand from a precarious 37/3 and dragged hosts right back into the contest, but England’s aggressive openers seized the initiative again in the first Test at Bay Oval on Friday.

Blundell struck a career-best 138 from 181 balls to spearhead the Black Caps to 306 in their first innings, adding 75 runs for the sixth wicket with Conway. That left New Zealand just 19 runs adrift of England’s first innings score of 325.

But the visitors added quick runs and will resume on 79/2 on Saturday afternoon in the Day/Night match, 98 runs ahead and with eight wickets including first-innings star Harry Brook, former captain Joe Root and skipper Ben Stokes still to come.

Earlier, Conway struck a patient 77 off 151 balls, raising a half-century partnership with Neil Wagner (27). Daryl Mitchell was out for a duck but Conway found an able ally in Blundell as they raised a half-century partnership for the sixth wicket.

The day belonged to Blundell as the 32-year-old reached his milestone off 143 balls, hitting 11 fours and one six, shortly after No 11 and debutant Blair Tickner survived a tough yorker by Ollie Robinson.

Blundell then went into attack mode, peppering the boundary and turning the heat back on the visibly rattled tourists, who at one stage entertained thoughts of holding a 100-plus first innings lead.

Blundell struck 19 fours and a six in his 181-ball 138 and also shared a 53-run stand with Scott Kuggeleijn to frustrate the Brendon McCullum-coached English even before he and Tickner combined for 59.

Brief scores:
England 325/9d & 79/2 in16 overs (Zak Crawley 28; Scott Kuggeleijn 1-2) lead New Zealand 306 in 82.5 overs (Tom Blundell 138, Devon Conway 77; Ollie Robinson 4-54, James Anderson 3-36) by 98 runs.



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