Hamilton: An unbeaten century by Tom Latham in a 116-run partnership with Ross Taylor and an injury to all-rounder Ben Stokes put England on the back foot on Friday on the rain-shortened first day of the second cricket Test against New Zealand.
Heavy rain began to fall during the tea break, washing out the final session and leaving New Zealand 173-3 at stumps with Latham 101 not out. Taylor was out 20 minutes before the end for 53 and Latham had been joined by Henry Nicholls (5).
New Zealand had been 37-2 after the dismissal of captain Kane Williamson (4) just before the first drinks break. Latham and Taylor repaired the innings with a century partnership from 184 balls, adding 87 runs for the loss of only Taylor's wicket during the second session.
The pitch at Seddon Park became increasingly docile as the ball became older and the sun baked out the faint smattering of new grass which may have caused England captain Joe Root, mistakenly, to bowl on winning the toss.
England took five seamers and no specialist spinner into the match and those bowlers were made to work hard Friday as the pitch settled into a good batting deck, likely to remain so for the rest of the match.
Stokes came into the match with a knee injury and was clearly in pain as he bowled only two overs in the first two sessions. He grimaced as he put weight on his left knee in his landing stride and seems unlikely to bowl again, at least in the first innings, depleting the England attack.
In a statement the England and Wales Cricket Board said: "Stokes has pain in (his) left knee and will be assessed as to whether he can bowl again in the innings. He felt some discomfort at the end of his second over."
Latham looked comfortable from the start of play on Friday and reached his 11th Test century from 159 balls with 15 fours to rise to 10th on New Zealand's all-time run-scoring list.
He was particularly strong off his pads and England fueled his run-scoring when they strayed too often onto his leg stump. The tactic of right armers Stuart Broad and Jofra Archer bowling around the wicket to the left-hander was unsuccessful.
Latham used placement and timing to find boundaries through midwicket and reached his century with an on-drive from the second ball of the only over bowled by Root, England's part-time off-spinner.
Taylor reached his 32nd half century from 98 balls and was out immediately afterwards, caught by Root at slip from the bowling of Chris Woakes. All three New Zealand wickets to fall Friday went to catches by Root who did his best to back-up his decision to field first.
Opener Jeet Raval (5) and captain Kane Williamson (4) also edged to Root and first slip.
Latham and Taylor had several reprieves in the first two sessions, thanks to the Decision Review System. Latham was judged lbw to Woakes when he was 49 just before lunch but the decision was overturned on review.
Taylor, on 25, successfully challenged an lbw decision which went in favor of Broad and replays showed the faintest of inside edges.
England then reviewed the umpire's rejection of an lbw appeal by Woakes when Taylor was 47 and the replay showed the ball pitching outside leg.
"Latham scored a fantastic hundred," Woakes said. "He's a very good player, his record suggests that as well.
"He goes under the radar a little bit, he's got a very good record and scores a lot of runs for them. He's a big player for them and it's important we try to get him out early in the morning."
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