Sunday News

Black Caps could be in the pink for first test

- Ian Anderson

The Black Caps and England head into the first test with vastly contrastin­g records – but one which weighs in favour of the hosts.

The opening match of the twotest series starting in Mt Maunganui on February 16 is a day-night game, with a pink ball being used.

England have won nine of their last 10 tests under new captain Ben Stokes and new coach Brendon McCullum, while New Zealand are without a victory in their past six tests.

But the tourists have lost five of their six day-night tests – all in consecutiv­e pink-ball encounters after winning their first in dominant fashion against the West Indies at home in 2017.

Since then, England have lost day-night tests to Australia (three times), New Zealand and India – all away from home.

The Black Caps have only played three pink-ball tests and have also been unable to defeat their trans-Tasman rivals – Australia have won all 11 daynight tests they’ve played.

New Zealand’s victory over England in the only previous daynight test between the two sides was a memorable one for the hosts.

At Auckland’s Eden Park in March 2018, the Black Caps bowled first after skipper Kane Williamson won the toss.

His bowlers didn’t let him down as Trent Boult took 6-32 and Tim Southee 4-25 to bundle the visitors out for 58. At one stage

with England 23-8, NZ cricket fans were on the edge of their seats, hoping England would register the lowest score in test history – the record of 26 having been set by New Zealand against England in Auckland in 1955.

Williamson and Henry Nicholls made centuries in reply and while England fared much better in their second dig, the hosts took the last three wickets they required in the final session to win by an innings and 49 runs.

New Zealand don’t have Boult – a huge danger with the pink ball swinging notably early – for the test series, but will be boosted by the return of Kyle Jamieson from injury.

England return four players – Joe Root, Ben Stokes, James Anderson and Stuart Broad – from that XI, while the Black Caps have Williamson, Nicholls, Southee, Tom Latham and Neil Wagner in their squad.

The Black Caps were part of the first day-night pink-ball test when facing their trans-Tasman rivals at the Adelaide Oval in November 2015 – a game most remembered by livid New Zealand fans for an umpiring controvers­y.

Skipper Brendon McCullum won the toss, batted, and the visitors could only muster 202.

However, Australia fell to 116-8 in reply, before tailender Nathan Lyon got a lucky – and ludicrous – reprieve when television replays showed a ‘hot spot’ mark on his bat for a close-in catch off spinner Mitchell Santner, only for TV umpire Nigel Llong to say ‘‘There’s a mark on a bat, but it could come from anywhere’’ and ruling not out.

Lyon was on nought at the time and made 34 as Australia grabbed a 22-run first-innings lead, before Josh Hazlewood’s 6-70 set up the hosts for a threewicke­t win in three action-packed days.

England’s 58 in 2018 isn’t the lowest day-night test innings tally – India made 36-9 versus

Australia in Adelaide in December 2017 – while Sri Lanka are the only visiting team to have won a day-night test, when defeating the West Indies in 2018.

 ?? GETTY ?? Trent Boult celebrates after taking the wicket of Joe Root with the last ball of day four in the first test against England at Eden Park in March 2018.
GETTY Trent Boult celebrates after taking the wicket of Joe Root with the last ball of day four in the first test against England at Eden Park in March 2018.
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