England held up again by Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell after bright start to third Test

New Zealand shut out 225-5 after choosing to strike first on the first day of the third Test against England; Daryl Mitchell (78th) and Tom Blundell (45th) lead 123-5 comeback after Henry Nicholls bizarre shooting; Jamie Overton takes the best test spot on his debut

England were held back by Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell again after getting off to a strong start in the third Test against New Zealand at Headingley.

The bizarre expulsion of Henry Nicholls, caught in the middle after the ball was bounced off Mitchell’s bat at the non-forward end, left the Black Caps 123-5 at tea, having chosen to strike first, but an unbroken position of 102 between Mitchell (78th) and Blundell (45th), their third three-digit pairing in as many tests, got them to solve.

Stuart Broad (2-45) had led England to midfield with a wicket in the first over, while Jack Leach (2-75) topped 30 overs the day after hitting his first ball and debutant Jamie Overton (1-41) claimed on his first test scalp when he beat Devon Conway after lunch.

Mitchell was a bit lucky when England did not review a lbw decision that would have seen him go cheap and he made it count and reached stumps in sight for a third of the series when New Zealand closed 225-5.

With the sun shining and a shining white blanket, the conditions looked perfect to beat and England would have prepared for a long day on the pitch.

Instead, they celebrated within six deliveries when Broad ended a test opening with the wicket of Tom Latham (0), southpaw caught by Joe Root on the first slip after pressing one that straightened out enough to find the edge. .

Broad almost hit again with the first ball in his next over when Kane Williamson lobbed it well along the side of the leg, just out of reach of Ben Foakes who appeared behind the stumps.

Williamson and Will Young struggled for most of the next hour, the latter barely avoiding pulling the ball on his own stumps as he tried to hook on Broad, but just before the drinks England got their second.

Jack Leach was called up to throw the 13 and the left-arm spinner immediately took advantage of his early introduction and caught Young (20) lbw with enough spin bolt to hit the bat as the starter tried to work the leg.

Young checked, but once it was determined that no bat was involved, he was in the lead.

Once again, New Zealand was allowed to regroup, this time through Williamson and Conway, but as lunch approached, Broad returned to see the Black Caps captain.

Stuart Broad eliminated Tom Latham in the first over of the match

The line was impeccable, full length and when Williamson (31) stepped forward to defend, a fraction of a move was all it took to find the feather to Foakes.

It could have been worse for New Zealand if Foakes had stuck to a very difficult opportunity and appeared next to him on the right after Broad found Conway’s inside edge.

Conway (26) survived but lost the same lead shortly after lunch when he sent the ball to his stumps while attempting a thriving drive outside Overton.

It was a fantastic moment for the English rookie, a first test spot to calm the nerves after a first up-and-down period on the morning shift.

Shortly before that, England thought they had Nicholls when Matthew Potts hit him in the shin with a big turn.

The judge denied the appeal, which turned out to be decisive, but Ben Stokes dismissed it. Replays showed that the ball got stuck between the bat and the bag, maybe got in touch with the bag first.

But without conclusive evidence to overturn the decision in the field, he was not left out.

DRS was crucial later in the session, but this time it was England’s decision not to use what cost them.

Potts covered Mitchell in the form of a swinger but, despite a loud appeal, referee Erasmus shook his head and Stokes chose not to send him up.

If he had done that, Mitchell would have been on his way to eight with three reds on the ball, hitting in the middle of the half.

But if Mitchell was lucky, Nicholls (19), after throwing 99 balls to frustrate England throughout the afternoon, found that he was clean in an instant.

The left winger returned the ball to Leach, but Mitchell could not get out of the way fast enough and the ball hit his bat and went past Alex Lees in the middle. A completely crazy dismissal.

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