Denly, Stokes-lay-Opening Of The Day Of The Foundation For A Considerable Amount > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more

Cricket news - Denly, Stokes lay opening-day groundwork for sizeable total

Joe Denly and Ben Stokes put on 83 runs for the fourth wicket.

Joe Denly (74) and Ben Stokes (67*) propped up England after a wobble in the second session to ensure the visitors would take honours on Day 1 of the first Test versus New Zealand in Mount Maunganui. England were 241 for 4 at the close of play.

When Stokes and Denly walked out to bat in the final session, New Zealand were looking to make further inroads. However, barring a few scares, the duo looked in fine touch in the post-Tea session. Denly soon reached his fifty with a drive off Neil Wagner. Stokes then took on the same bowler by cracking some delicious shots - punch, cut and pull.

When Mitchell Santner was introduced into the attack, Denly employed the lofted shot to put the spinner under pressure. By then New Zealand were desperately looking for the breakthrough and the second new ball was duly taken. Just like in the morning session, Tim Southee once again found swing and was rewarded with the wicket of Denly, with the No. 3 batsman edging one behind. Denly would be a disappointed man as he looked set to compile his maiden Test ton.

Once Denly fell and Stokes completed his half-century, the southpaw decided to hit the accelerator pedal by showcasing his wide range of shots. In the 85th over bowled by Trent Boult, he crunched exquisite shots down the ground and also whipped the pacer to the boundary hoardings. To make matters worse for the home side, Ross Taylor fluffed a chance in the slip cordon to give England's mainstay a reprieve, which could prove to be very costly. Stokes along with Ollie Pope also steered England to stumps on what was a satisfying day for the visiting side.

In contrast to the final session, England found themselves in a spot of bother in the afternoon, with the home team's pace pair of Colin de Grandhomme and Neil Wagner picking up a wicket each to peg the tourists back. At the start of the afternoon session, the two not-out batsmen, Rory Burns (52) and Denly, had to paddle through a tricky period when the duo found themselves in trouble against the pair of Wagner and Southee. Southee even induced the edge from Burns, only for it to fly through the small gap between first and second slip fielders - Ross Taylor and Tom Latham.

The pair negotiated the threat and looked set to share a stand of substance. Burns, though, against the run of play, fell to Colin de Grandhomme by edging one behind. Wagner then got some reward for his persistence by forcing Joe Root to edge one to Southee in the slips. It was a poor shot from Root as he just played away from the body.

In hindsight, New Zealand's pacers would rue the fact that they couldn't take advantage of the swing on offer in the morning. After England opted to bat, Dominic Sibley, on his Test debut, and Burns set about laying a platform with an opening stand of 52. Sibley opened his account in Test cricket with a boundary through midwicket off Boult. With Sibley shuffling across towards the off-stump, New Zealand's pacers made the mistake of bowling too straight and paid the price.

His batting partner, Burns, had a few heart-stopping moments at the start of his innings. He could even have been dismissed in the fifth over. Boult generated just enough away-swing and perhaps found the edge too, only for the on-field umpire to adjudge it as not out. The HotSpot suggested there was a mark, but New Zealand didn't take the review. Once Burns got set, he employed the cut and flick to collect boundaries and keep the scorecard ticking over.

De Grandhomme was the best bowler on show for the home side, finishing with impressive figures of 2 for 28 from 19 overs. He bowled with nagging control and found nifty movement to keep the batsmen on their toes. On the other hand, the experienced duo of Boult and Southee had an ordinary day by their standards.

Brief scores: England 241/4 (Joe Denly 74, Ben Stokes 67*; Colin de Grandhomme 2-28) vs New Zealand.

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