New Zealand v England 1st Test: Sam Curran takes two wickets including Kane Williamson

New Zealand's captain Kane Williamson (R) reacts to a delivery from England's Sam Curran
New Zealand's captain Kane Williamson (R) reacts to a delivery from England's Sam Curran

Sam Curran claimed the prize wicket of New Zealand captain Kane Williamson as England's bowlers wrestled back the initiative after an all too familiar batting collapse in the second Test.

Scorecard

England 353 all out: Stokes 91, Denly 74, Burns 52; Southee 4-88

New Zealand 144-4: Williamson 51; Curran 2-28

Report

Sam Curran claimed the prize wicket of New Zealand captain Kane Williamson as England's bowlers wrestled back the initiative after an all too familiar batting collapse in the second Test.

Ben Stokes' dismissal for 91 sparked England's slide from 277 for four to 295 for eight in the space of 21 chaotic deliveries - although an eventual 353 all out was their highest overseas first-innings total in nearly two years.

It may yet be a telling score as the Black Caps closed on 144 for four at stumps on day two, with Williamson wrenched out immediately after reaching his half-century with a delivery that reared up viciously at him.

The ball from Curran, who took two for 28 after being included at the expense of Chris Woakes, was the first major warning of variable bounce on a slow Bay Oval surface offering a hint of swing but little else.

Tim Southee also exploited a little movement to finish the pick of New Zealand's attack with four for 88, taking three of his wickets and a slip catch during England's slump as they threatened to squander a good position.

There was a sense of a new dawn on day one after no lack of restraint from a regimented top-order, which followed the vision laid out by captain Joe Root and head coach Chris Silverwood for a more patient approach at the crease.

That strategy arose from a desire to eradicate the collapses that have become a common theme under Root's captaincy, but England proved old habits die hard as the middle and lower order succumbed to some rash strokeplay.

They resumed on 241 for four, with Stokes taking to batting outside his crease as well as coming down the pitch to meet the ball, yet the more purposeful tactic led to his downfall as he chased a wider delivery from Southee.

Ross Taylor atoned for dropping the all-rounder on 63 on day one with a sensational one-handed grab at first slip.

Ollie Pope had earlier successfully reviewed an lbw decision given against him on 18 but he fell for 29 after being tempted into flashing hard at one that swung gently away from him, edging a catch to wicketkeeper BJ Watling.

Southee had two wickets in two balls when Curran was trapped in front by an in-swinger, before the New Zealand seamer took the catch which removed Jofra Archer in the next over off Trent Boult.

Jos Buttler and Jack Leach stemmed the flow of wickets and steered England into calmer waters, the former clubbing Boult for a towering six and hogging much of the strike in a 52-run stand for the penultimate wicket.

Buttler was dropped on 34 by Jeet Raval - depriving Southee of a five-for - but Santner proved a more reliable pair of hands, taking a catch in the deep, all the more remarkable given he had been signing autographs beyond the boundary rope moments beforehand.

Stuart Broad did not last long but England's total was their highest in the first innings on foreign soil since the 2017 Boxing Day Test against Australia.

Broad and Archer were innocuous in New Zealand's reply but Curran made the breakthrough with his third ball, Tom Latham peculiarly walking off after being given lbw despite Hot Spot showing an inside edge.

While Williamson looked utterly unflustered, Raval was uncomfortable against Leach and was perhaps fortunate to survive a review for lbw after missing a mow across the line, only to try the same shot and pick out Joe Denly at midwicket.

Ross Taylor was struck in the shoulder by a bumper from Archer before holing out for 25 off an ungainly top edge when Stokes dropped short but Williamson was the scalp they wanted most.

Having reached his fifty with an indeterminate prod off Curran, Williamson - batting minutes away from his birthplace in neighbouring Tauranga - fell for 51 to the next ball, taken aback by the sudden bounce of Curran and gloving to Stokes at second slip.

There was a brief worry before the close when Archer's bouncer rattled Henry Nicholls's helmet but the batsman went to the close on 25 not out, with BJ Watling unbeaten on six.


Reaction

Sam Curran reflected with some satisfaction about claiming the wicket of New Zealand captain Kane Williamson and believes the manner of the dismissal augurs well for England.

Curran was out for a golden duck and part of the collapse that saw England lose four wickets for 18 runs in 21 balls as they were all out for 353 on the second morning of the first Test in Mount Maunganui.

But he took two top-order wickets as the Black Caps closed on 144 for four, including the prize scalp of Williamson, who was only able to fend off a delivery that viciously reared up at him to Ben Stokes at second slip.

Williamson's departure in the final hour of the day for 51, which was the first major warning of variable bounce, handed the initiative back to England, and Curran admitted the wicket was probably his most cherished in his fledgling international career.

The 21-year-old said: "Because it's so recent, it probably is. I'm sure there are other moments but off the top of my head (I can't think of any).

"Obviously he's a world-class player so it's nice to say that I've got him out but the main thing is that we've got their best player out and now we get into the middle order. We're pretty pleased with the way the day ended.

"With a few more rollers in the morning, the wicket may start being a bit uneven.

"Fingers crossed that will suit us and there can be a few more and it gets worse as the game goes on because, most likely, we'll be bowling last and they'll be the ones batting.

"We obviously want to be batting as soon as we can and get a big, big lead. It's going to be an exciting game."

Curran, whose left-arm angle saw him selected ahead of Chris Woakes, has developed a knack of making interventions at crucial periods.

And after failing to add to England's total, he was eager to make amends.

He added: "Luckily enough when you bat and bowl, you can try to take some wickets for the team.

"There were a few players saying 'let's get up for this' because I was a bit down but I think that's just natural. I finished the day a lot happier than I was at 12.30pm.

"I just want to contribute with bat and ball, I couldn't get any runs but I can hopefully contribute with a few wickets in the first innings.

"I'm a very competitive person so I'd like to get in the battle even on a wicket that may not suit me or when I play against bowling that is putting me under pressure.

"If you're just going to sit back and let them do things against you, I feel I won't succeed."

While Curran's two for 28 was supplemented by one scalp apiece for Jack Leach and Stokes, who was earlier dismissed nine runs short of a century, Jofra Archer is wicketless so far.

Tim Southee, who took four for 88 during England's innings, said: "(Archer) has shown he's capable of performing at this level. He's played a fair bit of cricket for a young guy and I'm sure he'll turn up hungry."

While Archer was unable to make inroads into New Zealand's line-up, he rattled Henry Nicholls' helmet late in the day although the Black Caps batsman continued to stumps to finish on 26 not out.

Southee said of Nicholls: "He's a pretty tough character so he'll rest up, a couple of Panadol (paracetamol) and be back out there. He'll be assessed later on (Friday night) and again in the morning, that's the protocol. He's shaping up alright at the moment so fingers crossed he'll be right."

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