MOUNT MAUNGANUI-ICC-CRICKET: Half-centuries from Joe Denly and Ben Stokes took England to 241/4 at stumps on the opening day of the first Test against New Zealand at Bay Oval.
With Stokes (67) and Ollie Pope (18) going into stumps with unbeaten efforts, new head coach Chris Silverwood will be delighted with the first day of his red-ball tenure. England’s new approach of trying to bat long paid off, as New Zealand struggled to break them down. Earlier in the day, Joe Root called correctly at toss, as England elected to bat first. Debutant Dominic Sibley walked into the middle with Rory Burns, and he hit Trent Boult through mid-wicket with the first ball he faced.
The 24-year-old impressed in his 90-minute stay at the crease, as she sent the ball past the boundary four times. He ultimately conceded an edge to Colin de Grandhomme as Ross Taylor gobbled it up at first slip, and New Zealand claimed their first wicket of the day. Denly, who came into the middle after Sibley was dismissed for a promising and patient 22, seemed to have carried his end-of-Ashes form into the series. He had scored two half-centuries – including a 94 – in the last two Tests against Australia, and he followed that up with a crucial 74 against the Black Caps.
The right-hander stitched a 61-run stand with Burns, taking England past the 100-run mark in the 40th over. Burns was fortunate early in his innings: he had nicked the ball to the BJ Watling behind the wicket, but Kane Williamson chose not to review it. The opener made most of the chance, notching up his fifth half-century in Tests.
The Black Caps bowlers gave nothing away, but Stokes and Denly dealt with everything to steer England to a promising position. Denly was the last wicket to fall on the day, as Southee utilised the second new ball to deny the batsman his maiden Test hundred. Stokes and Pope saw England through for eight more overs, before the umpire clipped the bails after 90 overs.