New Zealand lead England by 223 at lunch on Day 4
LEEDS, England (AP) — England were frustrated by the familiar pairing of Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell as New Zealand hit back hard on the fourth morning of the Third Test at Headingley on Sunday.
The tourists added 86 runs without a loss, taking their lead to 223 at lunch.
Mitchell and Blundell were constant irritants for England over the course of the series, sharing big stands of 195 and 236 at Lord’s and Trent Bridge respectively, and the pair again combined to stop the home attack .
A four-wicket streak in a spirited night session on day three had put England firmly in control of the game, but they drew a blank in a difficult two hours the following day.
Mitchell, going on to run a run in career-best form, was 44 steps out at 264 for five, putting on another impressive performance on the back of three centuries in the series to date, and in the process became the first touring player to score over 500 runs in a Test series of three games or less in England.
Blundell, who also proved to be a skilled and determined player at No.7, was not out at 45 at the break.
England’s couture attack was unable to generate any real threat, with a soft, unresponsive ball and a calmly played pitch, but spinner Jack Leach came close to a crucial breakthrough when he set some one in Mitchell’s front pad on the 17th.
Referee Marais Erasmus raised a finger to uphold the lbw decision, but the verdict was overruled by the DRS, with ball tracking showing the ball clearing the top of the stumps easily. For England, it was as close as you could get to a much-needed breakthrough.
England took the second new ball just before lunch, with Stuart Broad and Matthew Potts finding a bit more zip as they each overturned.
If they can use it to cause any real damage early in the afternoon game, it will likely be key for England’s hopes to keep their eventual chase in sight.
England had started the day with an unexpected change of personnel when wicketkeeper Ben Foakes tested positive for COVID-19. He had already been absent on the third day due to a stiff back.
Sam Billings was called up as an emergency replacement, earning a second Test cap after his debut in the Ashes Final Game.
Billings, who will also be able to bat in the fourth inning, was England’s second substitute in the series after Matt Parkinson stepped in with a concussion at Lord’s.
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