Led by Ben Duckett’s brisk 68-ball 84, England made a quick start to the first Test against New Zealand, heading to Tea at 134 for 2 at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui on Thursday. The hard-hitting southpaw crunched 14 boundaries en route to his fifth Test half-century.
Put in to bat, England struggled early on, especially Zak Crawley who was dropped off the second ball of the day and four balls later, cleaned up off a no ball. However, his luck didn’t last too long, as Tim Southee had him edging to the slips in the third over.
However, even as the ball was moving around a bit, the English batters didn’t hold back on their aggressive ways. Both Duckett and Ollie Pope fearlessly went for the drives to full length deliveries, often hitting on the up – with a fair amount of success. With a regular flow of boundaries – which included four in five balls by Duckett off Blair Tickner – England progressed along quickly, piling on 69 runs in the first 10 overs, a few deliveries before Duckett brought up his 36-ball half century, flicking a delivery off his pads for a boundary.
Even as there was assistance for the bowlers, New Zealand fell on the defensive quite early in trying to control the flow of runs. The partnership swelled, but fell just one short of the century mark with Duckett driving uppishly to Michael Bracewell at short extra cover and handing Tickner his maiden Test wicket.
Despite the dismissal, Pope continued to score quickly and the fairly spread-out field allowed Joe Root to pick a few twos. The duo went to Tea unbeaten on 30 and 9 respectively.
Brief Scores:England 134/2 (Ben Duckett 84, Ollie Pope 30) vs New Zealand