New Zealand's choice to bowl first didn't go according to plan on a rather benign pitch, as centuries from Nick Compton and Jonathan Trott brought England the promise of a big score on day one of the second Test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington.
New Zealand's choice to bowl first didn't go according to plan on a rather benign pitch, as centuries from Nick Compton and Jonathan Trott brought England the promise of a big score on day one of the second Test at the Basin Reserve.
For all their struggles in the first innings of away series over the past 12 months, the tourists insisted they would buck the trend in Wellington. Thursday saw them do just that, with a score of 267 for two already 100 runs greater than their measly 167 all out in Dunedin.
Host skipper Brendon McCullum had vehemently stated he would put England in to bat if triumphant at the toss, and Thursday's flip of the coin obliged his ambition, only for Compton and Trott – and placid conditions – to douse it.
A New Zealand attack kept in the field for 170 overs for the latter half of last week's rain-affected draw, copped a further 90 this time. Five new balls, 260 overs in total and several sessions in the biting weather have the home side tired – and primed for a daunting Friday.
The collective stamina of their three-man seam attack was always going to be the subject of criticism. Trent Boult, Neil Wagner and Tim Southee only had so much in the tank, while spinner Bruce Martin's delivery of almost a third of the day's overs revealed a telling tale.
Swing and seam evaded Southee and Boult from the start, and the introduction of left-armer Wagner brought a similar lack of response from the surface. Alastair Cook, however, contrived a breakthrough in the 11th over on New Zealand's behalf – mistiming a loft straight to Peter Fulton at mid-on. Out for a mere 17, the England captain will surely admonish himself for missing out on the tame terrain.
Compton and Trott, though, made no such mistake. Adding 210 for the second wicket, their two-fold dominance was second to none. Grinding out the initial stages of their alliance, as has become typical of the dogged duo, they gradually tucked into a ton apiece.
The ninth of Trott's career and a second for Compton, adding to his 117 in Dunedin, left the opposition flatfooted and well aware of McCullum's misconception at the toss – the last six options to bowl first at this venue have only brought two wins.
Compton's fall for 100 on the dot, when he drove at some extra bounce from Martin and gifted slip fielder Ross Taylor an edge, afforded the Black Caps nominal respite. A review, after Kevin Pietersen copped a Trent Boult delivery to the front pad, offered more relief. The referral, though, was rightly overturned – umpire Asad Rauf was correct in his judgment of height and leg-side line.
Pietersen's unbeaten 18 and Trott's back-to-back drives, which took him to 121 not out, ultimately capped England's dominance. The Kiwis, meanwhile, considered the proportions dealt out the last time they opted to bowl first at the Basin Reserve. England, indeed, seem set for a total even greater than the 474 for nine declared achieved by South Africa a year ago.
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