New Zealand inched closer to a remarkable victory in the Bay Oval Test as Neil Wagner burst through England’s middle and lower-orders. The opponents were 161 for 8, still trailing by 101 at the break.
As the second session started, England would have hoped for the pair of Ben Stokes and Joe Denly to continue the flow of the match. However, Tim Southee rose to the occasion by bowling a fine spell with the older ball. He employed the scrambled seam delivery to produce a few edges of Stokes’s bat. However, the edges didn’t carry.
For a while, it even seemed as if the pair of Denly and Stokes would survive the tough phase against Southee and Mitchell Santner. Just that in the 69th over, Stokes lost his concentration and got out. On a track with some wear and tear on the final day, it was a poor stroke from England’s all-rounder. Stokes’s wicket opened up a golden opportunity for Wagner to run through the heart of England’s batting order.
The left-arm pacer hit the crack hard to snare the important scalp of Denly. From wide of the crease, he got one to kick viciously and Denly could only glove it to the keeper. The on-field umpire gave it not out but Wagner persuaded Kane Williamson to go for a review and the decision was altered. Wagner then bagged the scalps of Ollie Pope and Jos Buttler to leave the tourists in tatters.
Santner deserved a large share of appreciation for Pope’s wicket as he showed amazing reflexes to leap in the air at short cover to grab the catch. On the other hand, Ollie Pope would have been disappointed with the shot as he fell to a full toss. Wagner then removed Buttler with a yorker from wide of the crease and round the wicket, with the wicket-keeper-batsman paying the price for his misjudgment. Jofra Archer and Sam Curran survived a few anxious moments but with 32 overs still left in the day’s play, New Zealand is undoubtedly on track to win the Test.