On the opening day of the second Test at Trent Bridge, England made the ball talk in the second session, with Ben Stokes and James Anderson each taking another wicket to send New Zealand to tea at 195 for 4.
After a morning when the ball had minimal movement through the air or off the seam but bounced well, the same two bowlers who had combined to put the visitors down two wickets at lunch broke through once more as the ball began to swing.
Devon Conway was dismissed for 46 and Henry Nicholls was dismissed for 30, ensuring that none of New Zealand’s top four reached fifty.
If Zak Crawley had taken a catch diving from second slip across Joe Root at first to remove Nicholls on 17 before Root shelled a normal slips chance which dipped slightly on him off Daryl Mitchell, who had only one run to his credit at the time, it could have been much worse for the tourists.
Mitchell and Tom Blundell, who shared a 195-run stand in New Zealand’s five-wicket defeat at Lords in the second innings, went to the break with their latest partnership unbroken at 26.
Nicholls was dismissed by Stokes with a ball that slipped away from the seam, prompting a prod from wicketkeeper Ben Foakes and bringing an end to a 77-run partnership with Conway.
Conway had hit some impressive drives and pulls on route to his seven fours before being dismissed by a brilliant Anderson delivery that appeared to be shaping away before jagging back off the seam and finding a big inside edge through to Foakes.
Stuart Broad also found some movement to trouble the bowlers after lunch, and could have had Nicholls with a fuller ball angled into the left-hander from around the wicket, but Crawley – who had more room to move than Root – was left to rue not giving it to his former captain when he only managed to parry it away from them both.
Anderson thought he had Conway out for 41 when the batter picked out Matthew Potts at midwicket, but third umpire Rod Tucker determined that the ball had gone to ground, upholding a soft signal of not-out.
Earlier, Stokes and Anderson snuffed out a promising start by New Zealand openers Will Young and Tom Latham, who put up an 84-run stand before falling in quick succession.
Stokes allayed fears about his bowling ability, which had been raised after he indicated some discomfort in his side during training on Wednesday, coming on in the 19th over. He began with a sloppy delivery outside off stump, which Young hammered to the boundary through point, the first of two front-foot no-balls in the over.
After recovering from the concussion he sustained while fielding on the first day of the first Test at Lord’s, Jack Leach joined Stokes in the attack, although it was Stokes who struck first in his second over.
Stokes bowled a tight off-stump line and got the ball to kick into the splice of Young’s bat, with Crawley scooping a brilliant catch low at second slip after conceding two more boundaries to Young on the drive, the second misfielded by Leach in the covers.
As soon as Anderson came to the attack, Potts took a brilliant catch at midwicket to dismiss Latham, who smashed a short ball straight to him at pace. New Zealand had suddenly lost two wickets in as many balls, completely shifting the tone of the morning.
Latham, who was filling in for Kane Williamson, who tested positive for Covid-19 on the eve of the match, said he would have preferred to bowl first on a green-tinged surface that appeared dry below after losing the toss.
Willamson’s absence, as well as that of Colin de Grandhomme, who broke his foot while bowling in the first Test and has been ruled out of the series, caused New Zealand to make two lineup changes, including the omission of left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel. They added Matt Henry to a four-pronged seam attack that included Henry Nicholls, who returned after a calf injury and a bout of Covid-19, and Michael Bracewell, a left-handed batter with an off-spin option, making his Test debut.