New Zealand primed to ‘throw some punches’ at confident England

WELLINGTON (AFP): New Zealand will “throw some punches” when they face an attacking England in the second Test starting on Friday in Wellington, as the hosts bid to rescue the two-match series.

Bowling greats James Anderson and Stuart Broad, combined with some aggressive batting, propelled England to a thumping 267-run first Test win in a day-night encounter in Mount Maunganui.

It was England’s 10th win in 11 Tests under head coach Brendon McCullum and further evidence of the success of the New Zealander’s “Bazball” attacking cricket revolution.

In contrast, New Zealand are struggling for form and confidence going into the clash at Wellington’s Basin Reserve, where rain could play a part on the first two days.

The hosts are winless in their last seven Tests since beating South Africa a year ago in Christchurch, including suffering a 3-0 whitewash in England last June.

“I don’t think it’s unfair to say we are lacking a bit of that confidence at the moment,” said head coach Gary Stead, whose side were dismissed for 126 in their second innings of the first Test to lose in a little over three days.

“But I can assure you the faith is still with this group of guys.

“We’re going to put everything behind them to make sure we go out there in Wellington and really throw some punches back at England.”

New Zealand will be buoyed by the return of experienced seam bowler Matt Henry, who was unavailable for the opener because of the birth of his child.

But they will again be missing fast bowler Kyle Jamieson, who is expected to be on the sidelines for several months because of back surgery.

Jamieson has taken 72 wickets in 16 Test appearances and his loss was keenly felt in the pink-ball Test as New Zealand struggled to contain England’s aggressive batting.

– Stokes ‘blessed’ –

Daryl Mitchell, one of the few to offer resistance to England’s bowlers by making an unbeaten 57 during New Zealand’s second innings, is relishing another crack at the visitors.

“We’re excited for the next opportunity in Wellington and looking forward to taking on England again on home turf with the red ball,” said Mitchell.

Captain Tim Southee said that he didn’t think the margin between the sides had been reflected in the result and welcomed the return to traditional red-ball Test cricket at the Basin Reserve.

England’s emphatic victory in Mount Maunganui was their first Test win in New Zealand since 2008 and more evidence of their thrilling upturn under McCullum.

Skipper Ben Stokes, who was born in New Zealand, said that he felt “pretty blessed” to have bowlers of the ilk of veteran seamers Anderson and Broad, plus Ollie Robinson.

England will wait to see how the trio fare in the nets before selecting their side with all suffering some soreness after the first Test.

“I’ve also got a seriously skilled and very brave batting line-up to watch,” added Stokes, who already has one eye on the Ashes in this year’s English summer.

“They’ve got to take a lot of credit for the sort of record I have as a captain.”

Harry Brook again caught the eye in the first Test with the bat, after making hundreds in all three Tests of England’s recent 3-0 series win in Pakistan.

The in-form 23-year-old smacked 89 off 81 balls in England’s first innings to set the tone and then made another rapid-fire half-century.

“He is a fantastic talent. I think he will go on to be a global superstar,” said Stokes.

After a cyclone disrupted the preparations of both teams for the first Test, the weather could play a part in Wellington with rain and showers forecast for Friday and Saturday.

New Zealand (from): Tim Southee (capt), Tom Blundell, Michael Bracewell, Devon Conway, Matt Henry, Scott Kuggeleijn, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Blair Tickner, Neil Wagner, Kane Williamson, Will Young

England (from): Ben Stokes (capt), James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ben Foakes, Will Jacks, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Matthew Potts, Ollie Robinson, Joe Root, Olly Stone