New Zealand close on England with Watling, de Grandhomme century standPTI | Mountmaunganui | Updated: 23-11-2019 09:25 IST | Created: 23-11-2019 09:09 IST
A century stands by BJ Watling and Colin de Grandhomme put New Zealand on the brink of a first-innings lead at tea on day three of the first Test in Mount Maunganui on Saturday. The gritty Watling yet again proved to be an indomitable pillar when needed most by New Zealand while de Grandhomme, after a cautious start, reprised the brutal hitting role he usually reserves for cricket's shorter forms.
De Grandhomme went to the middle just before lunch with Watling on 32 and New Zealand 197 for five. By tea, they had put on 119 for the sixth wicket and lifted New Zealand to 316, with England's first innings 353 only 37 runs away.
Watling was on 79 with the explosive De Grandhomme on 65. When Henry Nicholls went for 41, England had reason to feel they had the upper hand with New Zealand's five specialist batsmen all out and still trailing by 156.
But Watling, who started his Test career as an opener before transforming into a wicketkeeper, has a reputation for producing his best when the chips are down. Unlike de Grandhomme, who has six and seven fours to his credit, Watling has grafted away.
On 27 he was dropped by Ben Stokes and on 53 he had an anxious moment when hitting on the pads by Jofra Archer. When replays showed the ball would have gone over the stumps Archer responded with thunderbolts of 152 and 148 kilometers per hour (94 and 92 mph) to finish off the over but Watling dealt with them easily.
Watling has been involved in three of the six best New Zealand partnerships for the sixth-wicket. Notably, he scored 124 when partnering Brendon McCullum in a 352-run stand -- then a sixth-wicket world record -- to save a Test against India in 2014.
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