Jamie Overton falls just short of debut century for England in tight third Test
England debutant Jamie Overton fell agonisingly short of a century in his first Test innings before a dropped catch helped Tom Latham reclaim the initiative for New Zealand on day three at Headingley.
Newcomer Overton was caught behind for 97 in the morning session, coming within a single stroke of an unlikely hundred from number eight, as Jonny Bairstow finished with 162 of his side’s 360 all out.
That was enough for a 31-run lead, which had yet to be cleared when Matthew Potts dismissed Will Young. But England’s promising position was overturned as Latham (76no) and Kane Williamson (37no) took the tourists to 125 at tea.
Stuart Broad came closest to removing Latham on 72, snaring the edge from round the wicket, only for Joe Root to fumble a regulation chance at slip.
While Bairstow picked up exactly where he had left off on the second evening, crunching drives emphatically through the covers to turn his overnight 130 into the third 150 score of his career, Overton struggled to relocate his mojo.
Having been selected to provide express pace rather than lower-order runs he had already wildly over-delivered by the time he resumed on 89 but, one smooth cover drive notwithstanding, appeared to give in to nerves as his landmark approached. He fished a couple of times outside off before finally nicking one from Trent Boult, with Daryl Mitchell holding on at slip.
Overton was offered an arm around the shoulder and some words of consolation from Bairstow, soundtracked by a warm ovation from the Yorkshire faithful, completing a bittersweet moment for the 28-year-old.
Broad punctured the mood of disappointment with a free-hitting cameo, plundering 42 in just 36 balls and wrestling the strike away from Bairstow.
Broad is a joyously unpredictable batter in his autumn years and New Zealand played directly into his hands, Boult unwisely tossing it up to his hitting arc and Neil Wagner dropping short ball on a pitch that lacked the requisite pace.
Broad hit six fours and two sixes before he was clean bowled by the labouring Tim Southee, but by that point England had already moved ahead.
Bairstow was gone off the very next ball, chipping Michael Bracewell down the ground after the change of ends, savouring his reception after his second unforgettable hundred in as many weeks.
Leach was last out for eight and then found himself sharing the new ball with Broad as England unsuccessfully tried to grab a quick breakthrough.
England took the field with Bairstow back in his preferred position at wicketkeeper, after Ben Foakes was sent back to the team hotel to rest a stiff back. He was standing up to the new ball when England took the rare decision to open with Leach’s left-arm spin, but that early gambit passed without drama.
Potts, who had been held back, made the breakthrough at the start of the afternoon session when Young sprayed a catch to Ollie Pope at third slip with England still ahead by three runs.
But that was as good as it got, with Latham finally banishing a lean series and Williamson scoring calmly as the ball went soft. They put on 97 together before the tea break, Latham going from accumulation through gritted teeth to a more expansive style.
He did the bulk of the scoring as Stokes’ first spell of the match went for 30 off four overs, and took advantage of some looseners from the returning Broad. Having averaged nine in his previous five innings on tour, it was all welcome stuff for the left-hander.
When Broad did beat him from round the wicket, Root’s handiwork let him down and England’s best chance of a morale-boosting scalp hit the turf.
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