Wednesday, 6 July, 2022
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Mitchell, Blundell hit tons as New Zealand turn screw on England

Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell hit centuries as New Zealand pummelled England to reach 481-5 before rain forced an early tea on the second day of the second Test at Trent Bridge.

Taking advantage of a flat pitch and lacklustre England bowling, Mitchell was unbeaten on a masterful 162.

Blundell reached 106 before becoming the only wicket to fall in the opening two sessions, with Test debutant Michael Bracewell scoring a brisk 40 not out before the rain delay.

Mitchell and Blundell amassed a 236-run partnership for the fifth wicket to leave New Zealand in complete control as they bid to level the three-Test series after losing the opener at Lord's by five wickets.

A journeyman with little Test pedigree until this series, Mitchell was only given his chance in the first Test after Henry Nicholls failed to recover from Covid-19 in time.

Six years ago, Mitchell had a season playing for Blackpool in the Northern Premier League and scored just two centuries.

The 31-year-old batsman arrived in England with just one Test hundred to his name since his 2019 debut, but now he has three following his 108 at Lord's.

Mitchell's latest century, his highest in Tests, came up in 184 balls, with England dropping him for the second time in the match after his milestone moment.

New Zealand are showing why they are the Test world champions, ruthlessly pressing home their advantage after scoring 318-4 on Friday thanks to their aggressive shot-making and England's miscues.

England fast bowler James Anderson had defended Ben Stokes' decision to bowl first, insisting the players backed their captain's "aggressive" call.

Anderson's faith proved misguided as England gave a sloppy display just as bad as Friday's, which including three dropped catches and another close call that eluded two slip fielders.

- Mitchell masterclass -

England, winners of only two of their previous 18 Tests, had to make inroads with a second new ball that was only seven overs old.

But Blundell's back-foot drive off Anderson underlined nothing had changed overnight as it rattled into the fence for the first boundary of the day.

Mitchell, who had scored 81 on Friday after being dropped by Joe Root on three, moved within touching distance of his ton after pulling a short Anderson delivery for a crunching four.

Having survived an lbw appeal from Matthew Potts, Mitchell brought up his century with a fortuitous edge off the England seamer.

If that was an ungainly way to reach the hundred, it was out of character with the rest of Mitchell's classy innings.

As he did on Friday, Mitchell went on the offensive against spinner Jack Leach but, on 104, he rode his luck with a lofty blow that was dropped by Potts as it trickled to the boundary.

Mitchell was attacking with impunity, crushing Leach and Potts to the boundary as the partnership raced past 200.

Adding to England's woes, their pace bowler Stuart Broad discovered that a Nottingham pub he part-owns had to close after a "significant fire" in the early hours of Saturday morning.

New Zealand were in complete control and Blundell nudged a single off Leach to reach his third Test century from 191 balls.

Looking to punish England further, Blundell was dismissed when he drove Leach to Stokes at mid-off.

Mitchell and Bracewell bludgeoned Leach and Stokes with a boundary barrage that produced 27 runs from the first two overs after lunch.

A towering Mitchell six off Leach got stuck in the Pavillion fence, but the ball was soon retrieved and the onslaught continued unabated.

Mitchell launched Leach for another six in the next over before bringing up his majestic 150.

Bracewell showed no signs of stage fright as he repeatedly battered Potts to the boundary before the mid-afternoon rain provided a merciful break for England.