The Headingley Test continued to remain on an even keel as England made a confident start with the bat in their first innings courtesy a maiden Test hundred by opener Adam Lyth in only his second Test. Lyth’s seasoned opening partner and skipper Alastair Cook also contributed 75 in a record-breaking innings during which he went past mentor and coach Graham Gooch’s tally for most Test runs by an Englishman. England were on top as the opening duo added 177, but New Zealand claimed three late wickets as England ended on a slightly vulnerable 253 for 5.
The Kiwis bowlers had struggled throughout the day to break the England resistance. They were lucky even with the dismissal of Lyth, who was run out. But, with the second new ball, and the floodlights on, the Kiwi bowlers found their rhythm, and pushed England back. Trent Boult sent back Gary Ballance, who looked unsure during his stay at the crease, by getting through his defence. Tim Southee then got a crucial wicket, that of the England run-machine Joe Root, having him caught behind with an outswinger for 1.
At 239 for 4, in walked Ben Stokes, the hero of Lord’s. The expectations were high from him again, but he also fell in the slips, to Boult. A day that was dominated by England ended with the Kiwis finishing on a high. Having allowed New Zealand to extend their overnight score to exactly 350, England’s openers were completely at ease at the crease. To put things into perspective, Cook and Lyth featured in England’s first opening century stand at home in four years, the last one coming against India at Edgbaston.
Lyth was completely in control out in the middle. He was troubled with the short balls when he was in his 40s and the 90s, but weathered the storm to reach his hundred. He almost chopped one back on to his stumps. He finally got to his ton with a sweep over midwicket. He was run out on 107 following a mix-up with Ballance. Cook who needed 32 runs to get past Gooch’s tally of 8900 runs got there with a square drive. He carried on in patient fashion until being trapped lbw by Mark Craig for 75.
Earlier in the day, New Zealand resumed in their aggressive fashion, adding 53 to their overnight score of 297 in 7.1 overs. Matt Henry slammed Stokes for a four, and Broad for a six before giving a catch behind the stumps. Mark Craig and Trent Boult continued the slam bang approach as they added 40 for the last wicket. England’s approach of trying to bounce the Kiwi tailenders did not work as New Zealand finished with 350. Broad claimed a five-for, but at the same time, conceded 109 runs in 17.1 overs, an economy rate of over 6.
-- By A Cricket Correspondent