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New Zealand takes charge in second test with England

AP

An unbeaten century by Tom Latham in a 116-run partnership with Ross Taylor and an injury to allrounder Ben Stokes put England on the back foot Friday on the rain-shortened first day of the second test against New Zealand.

Heavy rain began to fall during the tea break, washing out the final session and leaving New Zealand 173-3 at stumps with Latham (101) not out. Taylor was out 20 minutes before the end for 53 and Latham had been joined by Henry Nicholls (5).

New Zealand had been 37-2 after the dismissal of captain Kane Williamson (4) just before the first drinks break. Latham and Taylor repaired the innings with a century partnership from 184 balls, adding 87 runs for the loss of only Taylor’s wicket during the second session.

The pitch at Seddon Park became increasingly docile as the ball became older and the sun baked out the faint smattering of new grass which may have caused England captain Joe Root, mistakenly, to bowl on winning the toss.

England took five seamers and no specialist spinner into the match and those bowlers were made to work hard Friday as the pitch settled into a good batting deck, likely to remain so for the rest of the match.

Stokes came into the match with a knee injury and was clearly in pain as he bowled only two overs in the first two sessions. He grimaced as he put weight on his left knee in his landing stride and seems unlikely to bowl again, at least in the first innings, depleting the England attack.

In a statement, the England and Wales Cricket Board said: “Stokes has pain in (his) left knee and will be assessed as to whether he can bowl again in the innings. He felt some discomfort at the end of his second over.”

Latham looked comfortable from the start of play Friday and reached his 11th test century from 159 balls with 15 fours to rise to 10th on New Zealand’s all-time run-scoring list.

He was particularly strong off his pads and England fueled his run-scoring when they strayed too often onto his leg stump. The tactic of right armers Stuart Broad and Jofra Archer bowling around the wicket to the left-hander was unsuccessful.