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England struggle in the field - Cricket

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England continued with their inconsistent test match performances on the third day of the first test against New Zealand, with New Zealand closing on 394/6, giving them a first innings lead of 41.

England started the day, rather strangely, with Broad and Curran rather than the explosive pace of Jofra Archer. The opening pair struggled to break the 80mph barrier, allowing Nicholls and Watling time to get settled before Archer was brought into the attack. Even when he was brought into the attack, Archers first was only 79mph. This lethargy in the pace of the bowlers transferred itself to the fielders also, with some silly miss fields happening.

After a short, but in penetrating, burst from Stokes, Jack Leach was brought into the attack and caused some immediate problems, having Nicholls trapped LBW, only for the decision to be overturned on review with the ball hitting Nicholls marginally outside the line of off stump. This was enough for Joe Root to bring himself on to bowl with immediate reward. Two balls before the eventual wicket, Stokes dropped Watling at first slip. The chance was one that was relatively straight forward, at knee heights moving slightly to his right. This was to prove very costly as Watling batted throughout the day, ending on 119 not out. Two balls later Root got his reward. Nicholls wisely decided not to review the LBW decision this time as he was again trapped on the crease to a ball that skidded on.

This gave England hope, with the new ball due, that a first innings lead of over 100 was possible. The new ball came and went without a wicket, however. Watling receiving support from de Grandhomme (65 off 108) before he was caught by Sibley off the bowling of Stokes and Santner, who ended the day 31 not out.

This came after day one, where England certainly didn’t dominate, but put in a solid performance to end the day in a good position of 241/4, before the recent insistency kicked in. After Stokes fell for a well constructed 91, England capitulated with only Buttler (43 off 70) and Leach (18 off 55) offering any sort of resistance early on day 2.

England now look like they have a lot of work to do to save the test, with the expectation being a first innings deficit of over 100, despite being in strong positions at the end of both day one and day two. A fast start with a flurry of wickets is England’s only hope at the start of day 4 if they have any ambitions of winning the first test.