New Zealand captain Kane Williamson was in sight of his 18th test century as the ball dominated the bat on the opening day of the two-match series with England dismissed for a record low score of 58 at Eden Park on Thursday.
Williamson was 91 not out with Henry Nicholls on 24 as New Zealand advanced to 175 for three at stumps, a lead of 117 after England had been bowled out in the first 90 minutes of play following a Trent Boult and Tim Southee seam onslaught.
Boult and Southee struck early and often after Williamson had won the toss and opted to bowl with the pink ball in the first day-night test in New Zealand.
Boult finished with a career-best six for 32 after he had ripped the top off England’s batting with 4-9 from his first six overs. Southee finished with 4-25.
While England’s fans buried their heads in their hands and voiced their frustration over social media, it could have been much worse had bowler Craig Overton not produced a counter-attacking 33 not out.
After slumping to 23-8, Overton hit a boundary to push his side past the lowest score in test history — the 26 scored by New Zealand against England at Eden Park in 1955.
Overton then ensured they surpassed their own lowest score — the 45 they limped to against Australia in Sydney in 1887.
Prior to his innings, England’s batsmen had looked totally lost. While Boult and Southee bowled between a good and full length, the ball was not swinging wildly or seaming markedly.
Too many of their batsmen, starting with former captain Alastair Cook, failed to move their feet and were crease bound, with four wickets falling to catches behind the wicket.
England captain Joe Root (nought), Ben Stokes (nought) and Chris Woakes (five) were all also bowled by Boult, while Moeen Ali failed to clamp down on a Southee yorker.
“We always hoped there would be something in the wicket,” New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said. “It didn’t do a lot but it did enough.
“Sometimes when it does a bit more, they play and miss but once they found their length in about the fourth over they were exceptional and Trent certainly deserved the plaudits he got and Tim did a great job as well.”
England’s bowlers appeared angry at their sensational collapse — their lowest score against New Zealand and sixth worst overall — and strangled the hosts’ batsmen for long periods of the remaining two sessions.
Tom Latham and Williamson, however, stoically wore the bowlers down and took their side to a 30-run lead entering the final session under lights.
The 31-year-old Stuart Broad, however, broke through in the first over of the evening session, with Latham clipping a full delivery to Woakes at mid-wicket on 26 to give him his 400th test victim.
Despite becoming just the second England bowler to reach the milestone — new ball partner Jimmy Anderson has 525 wickets — Broad’s celebrations were muted as he raised the ball to the applauding crowd when they were informed of the milestone.
An aggressively-minded Ross Taylor was the only other wicket to fall under the lights when he misread an Anderson bouncer and was caught by Woakes at mid-wicket for 20.
“We know that it can be difficult against the new ball and we knew that even if we’re not going anywhere, if we spend some time out there we can get the rewards later on,” Hesson added of his team’s cautious batting approach.