Tom Latham makes century for New Zealand in second Test with England

Tom Latham leaves the field after his record-breaking innings
Tom Latham leaves the field after his record-breaking innings

Tom Latham made an unbeaten century as New Zealand reached 173 for 3 on day one of the second Test against England.

Scorecard

New Zealand 173-3 Latham 101*

Report

Tom Latham's purple patch in Tests continued as he withstood England's battery of seamers to lift New Zealand to 173 for three on a truncated opening day at Hamilton.

Latham capitalised on being dropped on 66 to register his fifth century in his last 10 Test innings and was unbeaten on 101 by the time an afternoon thunderstorm led to play being halted after 54.3 overs.

England were therefore unable to make sufficient use of choosing to bowl first in the second Test at Seddon Park, where the decision to omit Jack Leach in favour of Chris Woakes has left them without a frontline spinner.

Woakes took two for 41 on his recall, having been left out of the innings-and-65-run defeat in Mount Maunganui which means this Test is a must-win if England are to square the series in their final obligation of this tour.

That task may prove a little more onerous depending on the fitness of Ben Stokes, who was in visible discomfort and reached for his left knee during the only two overs he bowled.

He remained in the field but England later confirmed the all-rounder would be assessed before a decision on whether he can bowl in the rest of the innings.

However, Ollie Pope was dependable behind the stumps as he deputised for the injured Jos Buttler, conceding only four byes from a Jofra Archer bouncer that even a specialist wicketkeeper would have struggled to gather.

This was only the sixth time in his 34 first-class matches he had taken the gloves, which meant he moved down to No.7 in the batting order to accommodate Zak Crawley, who conceded four overthrows after a woeful shy at the stumps early on.

He was not required to bat on his first day in England whites after Root had been seduced by the live grass on the wicket, although there was very rarely any of the lavish movement the captain may have been hoping for.

Nevertheless, Stuart Broad was able to make inroads early on as Jeet Raval's flat-footed mow took the edge and flew to first slip, where Root took the first of his three catches.

Root's next take was much less straightforward, diving superbly to his right to pluck the ball above the turf after Woakes had squared up Kane Williamson, who departed for four to leave the Kiwis on 39 for two.

While the Black Caps dangerman was back in the pavilion, Latham proved a trickier customer. Whenever England bowled too straight, he was happy to oblige by ruthlessly dispatching the ball to the midwicket fence.

Latham twice took two fours in an over off the expensive Sam Curran, who fruitlessly searched for swing all day, before, on 49, overturning an lbw decision off Woakes after technology determined the ball had pitched outside leg.

Latham went to fifty from the final ball of the first session and looked to be settling into a groove alongside Ross Taylor, who seemed to be trapped plumb in front on 25 by Broad only to be peculiarly reprieved by third umpire Bruce Oxenford.

Taylor tentatively reviewed after consulting with Latham. There was a spike on Snicko, but only after the ball had passed the bat, raising questions as to whether there was enough evidence to overturn the decision.

Soon after, Latham fenced at Archer but the ball burst through the hands of Stokes, diving to his left, conjuring memories of his drop of BJ Watling at the Bay Oval, where the Kiwi wicketkeeper went on to amass an epic 205.

Taylor was dismissed for 53 the ball after reaching his half-century. He aimed a cut at Woakes but was cramped for room and edged into the cordon to end a 116-run stand that was the backbone of New Zealand's innings.

Root brought himself on to bowl in the final over before tea, in which Latham brought up his ton with a punch down the ground for his 15th four.

As the clouds rolled in ahead of the final session Archer, who topped 89mph just days after being allegedly racially abused in the first Test, was halfway through his over when the players came off for rain.

England were wearing black armbands on the opening day in honour of head coach Chris Silverwood's father-in-law. Silverwood will head home after the second day's play.

Reaction:

Chris Woakes admitted the possibility of losing Ben Stokes' bowling as England seek to level the Test series against New Zealand at Hamilton would be a major blow.

Stokes was in visible discomfort in his only two overs on the opening day of the rain-affected second Test at Seddon Park, where Tom Latham's unbeaten century underpinned New Zealand's 171 for three.

The England all-rounder held his left knee and was limping after his brief spell with the ball, and the tourists confirmed he will be assessed before a decision is taken on whether he can bowl in the remainder of the innings.

"Ben's overs are not just a bonus, he's a world-class bowler when he's at his best," Woakes said. "Of course we'll move his overs, whether he can bowl or not I don't know.

"He's obviously got a bit of pain in that left knee, I don't know exactly what it is but of course we want a Ben Stokes at full tilt if we can because he's world class."

Stokes underwent surgery on his left knee in May 2016 while he revealed during the first Test against the Black Caps in Mount Maunganui last week that he was managing it.

With less than four weeks to go until the start of the four-Test series against South Africa, Stokes' latest injury scare is a worry.

"Ben is one of the hardest trainers and works hard on his fitness and everything," Woakes added. "Hopefully we can get that right. The medical team will be working really hard to do that.

"There's a bit of a gap between the end of this Test match and the start of the South Africa one so hopefully (they can) get him as close to 100 per cent as possible."

Stokes was unable to cling on to the only chance offered by Latham, on 66, the ball bursting through his despairing hands as he dived to his left after the New Zealand opener had edged into the cordon off Jofra Archer.

It conjured memories of his drop of BJ Watling in the first Test at Mount Maunganui, where the New Zealand wicketkeeper went on to amass an epic 205 in the Black Caps' innings-and-65-run victory earlier this week.

"Ben, in particular, is probably the hardest trainer I've ever seen, particularly when it comes to his fielding and his catching," Woakes said.

"It's just the way it goes. Unfortunately we've put a couple down and it's hurt us, hopefully this one won't hurt us quite as badly as the last one did."

Woakes was also unfortunate not to account for Latham, who was twice reprieved on review by the ball pitching outside leg, although the Warwickshire seamer took the key wickets of Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor.

Woakes was recalled at Seddon Park in favour of slow left-armer Jack Leach as England decided against selecting a frontline spinner.

"Considering I haven't had much match practice on the tour, I felt in reasonably good rhythm," Woakes said.

"It would have been nice to have had an extra one and nice to have had Latham. But I'm obviously really pleased with the two scalps, the two big players for them."

Only 54.3 overs of play were possible on Friday because of a thunderstorm that wiped out all but three balls of the final session, as England were unable to make sufficient use of choosing to bowl first.

Woakes added: "It's probably too early to tell. It would have been nice to have had that last session."

Latham's 101 not out is the fifth time in his last 10 Test innings he has gone past three figures.

Asked if there was a reason for his sudden purple patch, he responded: "I'm not sure what it is. If I knew what it was I'd be trying to bottle that up as much as possible.

"For me, it's just about trying to stick to a plan for long periods of time and that's probably what's given me success over the last year or so."

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