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England 141 and 216 for 5 (Root 77*, Foakes 9*) need a further 61 runs to beat New Zealand 132 and 285 (Mitchell 108, Blundell 96)
(CRICINFO) There is a recent history of dramatic encounters between England and New Zealand at Lord’s – particularly those involving Ben Stokes. This rip-roaring Test was set to become the latest instalment as England, inspired by Stokes and his predecessor as captain, Joe Root, did the bulk of the legwork in their fourth-innings chase of 277.
New Zealand were not out of it come the close, needing five more wickets and with a lengthy tail to come. Kyle Jamieson blasted out four of England’s top six, including taking the wicket of Stokes just as he seemed to have located his momentum-stealing mojo – but they were also left to wonder at what might have been, had Colin de Grandhomme not overstepped at a crucial juncture in the day.
Stokes, on 1 at the time, dragged de Grandhomme’s delivery into his stumps but was cheered back to the middle as the no-ball was signalled. To add to New Zealand’s problems, de Grandhomme, the fourth seamer, was forced off mid-over shortly after by a heel strain and did not return. It was the birthday present England’s new Test leader needed, and Stokes set about stamping his mark on the contest during a 90-run partnership with Root that resurrected the team’s chances after Jamieson had helped reduce them to 69 for 4. New Zealand have been here before: in 2015, when Stokes scored the fastest Test hundred at Lord’s to set up victory over a side captained by Brendon McCullum, now in charge of England’s Test fortunes; in 2019, when, well, we probably don’t need to remind you.
There was even an echo of the World Cup final in one of the lighter moments of a tense tussle, as a shy at the stumps with Stokes scrambling for his ground ended up deflecting off the back of his bat. This time, overthrows were not an issue. Sixes into the stands could be a factor, though. Stokes signalled his intent before the tea break by smiting Ajaz Patel’s second delivery in the Test over deep midwicket, and he took up the gauntlet when Kane Williamson turned to his spinner again during the evening session. Two more slog sweeps disappeared into the crowd during an over that cost 17, and Stokes went to fifty from his next delivery, punching Jamieson through backward point for four.
There was a gladiatorial atmosphere around Lord’s, only for Jamieson to land what appeared another telling blow, Stokes gloving behind when looking to uppercut a short ball. But England could still lean on Root, as they have for much of the last 18 months, and he played with increasing assurance during an unbroken stand with Ben Foakes that buoyed expectations of a home victory going into day four. Root, despite his many achievements, has never scored a fourth-innings hundred for England; should he get there over the course of the next day (or two, given the weather forecasts for Sunday), he will also become the 14th man to reach 10,000 runs in Tests.
New Zealand began the day in the box seat, looking to build on the efforts of Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell, but saw their second innings wrapped up inside 90 minutes of another harum-scarum morning session, Stuart Broad providing the spark as England claimed the last six wickets for the addition of just 34 runs. Mitchell notched his second Test hundred, while Blundell just missed out on a place on the honours board – but despite their 195-run fifth-wicket stand, a precipitous end to the innings left the door ajar.
England had declined to chase a very similar target on the same ground against the same opponents 12 months ago – although on this occasion, there were no fifth-day time constraints to factor in. Two summers ago, they reeled in a fourth-innings requirement of 277 against Pakistan at Old Trafford, but neither of their match-winners on that occasion – Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes – were in the side here.
New Zealand made the initial breakthrough before lunch, Jamieson putting an end to Alex Lees’ bright start by bringing one back down the slope to hit the top of off as the England opener attempted to leave. The towering Jamieson continued after the interval, rarely wavering from his disciplined interrogation around the top of off stump. That line did for Zak Crawley, who was looking to play defensively but could not deal with the combination of bounce and movement as the ball took the edge up by the bat label to be held superbly by a diving Tim Southee at third slip.
The Trent Boult delivery that did for Ollie Pope was even better, swinging in from round the wicket and then darting away off the seam to uproot the off stump. Boult suffered momentary pain as Jonny Bairstow took him for three fours in an over, but England lost their fourth in the next, Jamieson’s out-out-out-in gambit resulting in Bairstow being emphatically bowled through the gate attempting to drive. Proceedings began with Mitchell and Blundell both hoping to bring up hundreds, and New Zealand seemingly heading out of sight – already 227 runs in front with six wickets still standing. Drizzle delayed the start by half an hour, but Mitchell did not have to wait much longer, driving the fifth ball of the morning – and the first he had faced – for three to reach the landmark.
The third over with the second new ball changed the complexion of the contest. Broad summoned the spirit of his innings-wrecking younger self as three wickets went down in the space of three balls, Lord’s rising to the occasion as New Zealand suddenly sensed danger at 251 for 7.
It needed a peach to dislodge Mitchell, who was caught at the wicket off one that left him on a perfect length. The next delivery brought another moment of calamity for de Grandhomme, who survived a vociferous lbw appeal only to be run out by the alert Pope, who threw down the stumps from fourth slip before New Zealand’s No. 7 could regain his bearings. The team hat-trick was complete when Broad, having whipped up the crowd, sliced through Jamieson’s forward defensive to send off stump cartwheeling back. Blundell had been made a spectator, and the nerves were surely rising when he propped forward to a James Anderson in-ducker on 96 to be palpably lbw – a forlorn review confirming the ball would have hit the middle of middle stump. Southee whacked four fours to help swell the target further, but the game was moving on again. Matthew Potts producing another immediate intervention to remove Ajaz before Matthew Parkinson claimed his maiden Test wicket, Southee slashing to slip.