Leach, Pope put England on course for series sweep

Sam Drury

@SamDrury11

England close on 183-2 in their chase of 296 to beat New Zealand at Headingley and complete a 3-0 Test series sweep; Jack Leach completed his first Test 10-wicket haul in the match as the Black Caps were bowled out for 326 before Ollie Pope and Joe Root put England in control of the chase

Last Updated: 26/06/22 7:17pm

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Highlights from day four of the third Test between England and New Zealand at Headingley
Highlights from day four of the third Test between England and New Zealand at Headingley

England are on track to seal a 3-0 series sweep over world Test champions New Zealand after telling contributions from Jack Leach and Ollie Pope on day four at Headingley.

Left-arm spinner Leach (5-66) took his second five-wicket haul of the match, finishing with figures of 10-166, to bowl New Zealand out for 326 – Tom Blundell top-scoring with an unbeaten 88 – and leave England with another tantalising chase: 296 the target for victory.

By stumps, the home side were more than halfway to their target, closing on 183-2, scoring at more than 4.5 runs an over throughout the evening session as Pope (81no) and Joe Root (55no) shared an unbroken 132 for the third wicket.

Score summary after day four

  • New Zealand 329 all out – Mitchell (109), Blundell (56); Leach (5-100), Broad (3-62)
  • England 360 all out – Bairstow (162), J Overton (97); Boult (4-104), Southee (3-100)
  • New Zealand 326 all out – Blundell (88no), Latham (76); Leach (5-66), Potts (3-66)
  • England 183-2 – Pope (81no), Root (55no), Crawley (25); Bracewell (1-70)

England go into day five with a further 113 needed to win, and Pope will have his sights on a third Test hundred, while New Zealand require a dramatic turnaround if they are to avoid the whitewash.

Jack Leach took another five-for to end with match figures of 10-166
Jack Leach took another five-for to end with match figures of 10-166

Blundell and Mitchell frustrate England yet again

The day began with the news that Ben Foakes, who was off the field on day three with a stiff back, had tested positive for Covid-19, with Sam Billings drafted in as the like-for-like replacement.

The wicketkeeper might have changed but otherwise it was a familiar story as England, try as they might, could not break the Mitchell-Blundell partnership during a wicketless morning session.

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Matt Potts went past the edge a few times early on, Stuart Broad (0-63) kept it tight as well but the wicket would not come.

Leach thought he had it midway through the session when Mitchell was given out lbw but the batter reviewed and it was shown to be going over the top.

England had two overs with the new ball before lunch but it was New Zealand celebrating a trio of milestones after the break, Blundell and Mitchell going to their sixth and fourth Test half-centuries, respectively, and a fourth century partnership of the series between the pair coming up in between.

Tom Blundell finished unbeaten on 88 after sharing another century stand with Daryl Mitchell
Tom Blundell finished unbeaten on 88 after sharing another century stand with Daryl Mitchell

Change came with the reintroduction of Potts. The Durham seamer started his spell with a full ball to Blundell, angled in at the stumps to rap the right-hander on the pad. A huge appeal was met by umpire Kettleborough raising his finger.

Blundell chose to review and was justified when ball-tracking showed it was sliding just down leg.

Potts makes the breakthrough before Leach mops up the tail

Potts (3-66) was undeterred, though, and four balls later he hammered the pad again. This time it was Mitchell, who had shuffled across his stumps, up went the finger once more and on this occasion, the review did not save him and a partnership that has added 704 together across the series has broken for the last time.

Leach had begun to cause problems, too, and having twice been frustrated by Blundell nicking the ball between Billings and Joe Root at first slip, Michael Bracewell (9) gifted his fellow spinner a second wicket of the innings.

Having thumped a six over long on two balls earlier, Bracewell tried to go big again and Zak Crawley did not have to move at deep square leg before pouching the catch.

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Mark Butcher gives his view on how Leach has managed to have such an impact on the England Test side
Mark Butcher gives his view on how Leach has managed to have such an impact on the England Test side

From there the end came quickly for the Blacks Caps. 10 overs later they were all out and Leach was raising the ball to the crowd after completing his second five-for of the match and 10 wickets across the two innings.

Tim Southee (2) was bowled by a ball that skidded on, later in the same over Neil Wagner (0) was caught behind – Billings somehow managing to trap the ball between his knees to complete the catch – and, lastly, Trent Boult (4) was castled as he came charging down the pitch to leave Blundell stranded.

England take control of chase despite losing openers

England’s chase began after tea and after tearing through the top-order in the first innings, Boult started well again and should have had the wicket of Crawley before the struggling opener had got off the mark.

The right-hander chased a wide one and sent a thick edge high towards second slip. Southee got his hands to it above his head, but the ball burst through and ran away to the fence.

Alex Lees was not so fortunate as Crawley middled a drive to the left of Kane Williamson at mid-off, probably expecting four for it. However, with Lees having come halfway down the pitch looking for a single, Williamson made a brilliant stop, throw the ball in and Boult got back to the stumps just in time to collect the ball and take the bails in one quick motion to send Lees (9) packing.

Zak Crawley hit a flurry of boundaries before falling to Michael Bracewell
Zak Crawley hit a flurry of boundaries before falling to Michael Bracewell

Crawley, meanwhile, appeared all at sea and decided his best option in this era of ‘Bazball’ was to try and hit his way out of trouble.

Initially, it worked with four crunching boundaries coming from one Boult over and another coming via a powerful slog-sweep off Bracewell but it caught up with him eventually.

Williamson packed the legside field as Crawley faced up to the off-spin of Bracewell, enticing him to hit offside and the England opener fell straight into the trap. A flighted ball outside off, on a good length and Crawley (25) went straight for the booming drive and when the ball dipped late, he could only chip it up to the New Zealand skipper at extra cover.

That brought Root to the crease to join Pope and New Zealand swiftly burnt two reviews trying to get rid of him.

Pope is within 19 runs of a third Test century - and second of the series
Pope is within 19 runs of a third Test century – and second of the series

Twice in two balls, Southee hit Root on the front pad, on both occasions it seemed clear that the batter was outside the line of off stump but, knowing the importance of the former England skipper’s wicket, Williamson sent both upstairs to have the original decisions confirmed.

Having had a couple of moments of fortune when he edged Bracewell between keeper and slip, Root began to find his rhythm and if anyone was in any doubt as to how well the Yorkshireman is seeing the ball at the moment, he produced a ludicrous reverse sweep-cum-scoop to send Wagner over third man for six!

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Joe Root showed off his skills to fans at Headingley, with a wonderful reverse sweep off the bowling of Neil Wagner
Joe Root showed off his skills to fans at Headingley, with a wonderful reverse sweep off the bowling of Neil Wagner

At the other end, Pope was scoring freely. He had driven beautifully through the covers and looked to get to fifty through the same region, hitting the fielder four times before finding the boundary with a thick inside edge down to fine leg. A streaky shot to bring up an otherwise very classy seventh half-century.

The runs continued to flow as the session wore on, New Zealand trying any number of plans to stop the bleeding but to no avail.

Pope crunched a pull shot to the boundary to bring up the 100 partnership from 142 balls. That Root was forced to play second fiddle for long spells in the stand only highlighted the quality of the knock from England’s No 3.

Root still had his moments on his home ground – not least that remarkable six off Wagner – and brought the fans to their feet again with a pair of boundaries in the final over of the day taking his to a 54th Test fifty.

Stats of the day

  • With Sam Billings replacing Ben Foakes as a Covid substitute, England will have had the most different wicketkeepers in the same Test since they used four in the first Test against New Zealand at Lord’s in July 1986.

Watch day five of the third LV= Insurance Test between England and New Zealand, at Headingley, live on Sky Sports Cricket with coverage starting at 10.15am and play getting underway at 11am, on Monday.

Source : Sky Sports