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Bairstow, Wood steady England after middle-order wobble

While Bairstow was dropped by BJ Watling, Wood was dropped twice during his 62-ball stay.
While Bairstow was dropped by BJ Watling, Wood was dropped twice during his 62-ball stay. © Getty
A brilliant counter-attacking eighth-wicket stand between Jonny Bairstow (97 not out) and Mark Wood (52) helped England end the first day of the second Test on 290 for 8 against New Zealand in Christchurch on Friday (March 30). The duo added 95 runs to revive England's innings after they were reduced to 164 for 7 at one stage.
England's middle-order fragility came back to haunt them as they found themselves reeling at 94 for 5 in the second session. With Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali dropped, the batting line-up wore a much thinner look, but the Bairstow-Wood collaboration somewhat saved them the blushes. When the two got together, England had lost Ben Stokes and Stuart Broad in quick succession to soft dismissals. While Stokes flicked a ball down the leg side straight to the 'keeper, Broad lobbed a simple catch to mid-off to leave the team in a mess. What Wood needed to do was play second fiddle to Bairstow. However, what started as a bit of an adventure, soon turned into authentic cricket strokes that put New Zealand's bowlers under pressure.
While Bairstow continued to fight, Wood's confidence gave him the much-needed cushion to look for quick runs. Kane Williamson turned to each of his bowlers - he went to Tim Southee and Boult to dislodge them, he went to Neil Wagner to rattle them with bounce, he turned to Colin de Grandhomme to frustrate them and eventually to Ish Sodhi to change things a bit. Nothing worked though in the last hour-and-a-half of play and that helped the visitors end the day on even keel.
The duo, however, did offer chances. While Bairstow was dropped by BJ Watling, Wood was dropped twice during his 62-ball stay. The wicket came though, just before the new ball was taken, as Southee bowled Wood to pick up his fifth wicket.
Earlier, England went to Lunch at 70 for 2 with both Joe Root and Mark Stoneman set at the crease. They were 93 for 2 at one stage before Root was bowled by Southee. Dawid Malan registered a first-ball duck while Mark Stoneman (35) was caught at slip off Southee. England had lost three wickets in three consecutive overs, reduced to 94 for 5.
Stokes and Bairstow did well to see off the remaining session and stretched their association to 57 after the break before the former fell. England had another shaky start when Boult dismissed Cook in the third over. Cook read the length well, the line well but the ball moved away just enough to avoid any contact and crashed into the stumps. The former England captain fell to Boult for the third consecutive time as the visitors were reduced to 6 for 1 then. The next hour was spent with Stoneman and James Vince steadying the innings.
Runs dried up, but both did well to keep the New Zealand bowlers at bay. In the eighth over, Vince survived a caught-behind appeal. The hosts went for a review, but replays confirmed there was no bat involved. Four overs later, he reviewed an lbw decision against him and got away with it as the ball was missing leg stump. However, he failed to carry on and fell to Southee in the 17th over, trapped in front by an inswinger and was dismissed for 18.
Brief scores: England 290/8 (Jonny Bairstow 97*, Mark Wood 52; Tim Southee 5-60) vs New Zealand.

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