On the second day of the third and final Test here on Friday, Jonny Bairstow and Jamie Overton shared a scintillating unbeaten 209-run partnership to rescue England from a precarious 55/6.
England reached 264/6 at stumps on Day 2 with Bairstow batting on 130 and Overton unbeaten on 89.
Trent Boult of New Zealand rattled England with three early wickets, and Neil Wagner claimed two as England struggled to respond to New Zealand’s first innings total of 329.
With England leading the series 2-0 but reeling on 55/6 in response to the tourists’ 329, Bairstow and Overton combined to produce a hugely entertaining partnership, leaving the third Test very much in doubt after two days.
Bairstow led the charge for England, scoring at a run-a-ball or better for much of his outstanding knock of 130* – his tenth Test century and fourth already in a brilliant 2022 for the 32-year-old.
At the other end of the spectrum, debutant Overton looked every bit the all-rounder that England had heralded when naming him to the Test XI for the first time.
According to an ICC website report, the Surrey man ended play 11 runs short of a Test century on debut, and will resume on 89* with England 65 runs behind on 264/6 after only 49 overs.
A memorable day began with New Zealand adding 104 runs to their overnight total, led by the in-form Daryl Mitchell (109).
Mitchell’s century continued a fine individual series with the bat for the Kiwis, and he was ably supported by Tim Southee’s quickfire 33 to help the score pass 300. Jack Leach dismissed both batters and took the final wicket of Neil Wagner to finish with a five-wicket haul and figures of 5/100.
Trent Boult, on the other hand, rattled England’s top order, raising New Zealand’s hopes. Boult ripped through England’s top order, bowling Alex Lees (4), Ollie Pope (5), and Zak Crawley (6) to put the hosts in serious trouble.
When Tim Southee caught Joe Root behind for just five runs, England appeared to be heading for a massive first-innings deficit.
After tea, Ben Stokes’ extraordinary 13-ball 18 came to an end when he charged Wagner and chipped a catch to Kane Williamson, with Ben Foakes departing for a duck just three balls later.
At 55/6 and with the first of England’s specialist bowlers at the crease, it appeared that a follow-on might be an option for New Zealand on day two.
But Bairstow and Overton had other plans, and they put the hosts in a position to take the first innings lead.
(Inputs from IANS)