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Daryl Mitchell rues the small moments that slipped away from NZ's grasp in the opening test

By Real11 - Feb 21 2023 211 Views
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Daryl Mitchell dejected after New Zealand failed to latch onto a couple of key moments

New Zealand all rounder Daryl Mitchell regrets the “small moments” that slipped away from their grasp in the opening test in Mount Maunganui, but says that there isn’t much difference between his team and England. 

"If you looked into that third innings, I think we had them six down for 230-240 - I'm not sure of the exact numbers - but if we had taken a couple of quick wickets, the game could have been a lot different," Mitchell said after arriving in Wellington for the second Test.

"So, for us, it's actually not too far away. It's sticking true to who we are as Kiwis and Blackcaps, and what's worked for us for a number of years now. Yeah, we are missing a couple of small moments now, which is disappointing, but we also know that's the nature of Test cricket, and it's not always going to go your way, and it can be a bloody hard game at times. But we also know we are not too far away."

One of those little moments was New Zealand allowing England to score 374 in their second innings after they were 237 for 6. The visitors had threatened to lose momentum when Joe Root departed trying a reverse sweep for the second time in the Test at the stroke of tea on day three. But a composed half century from wicket keeper batter Ben Foakes, and fiery cameos from skipper Ben Stokes and number 9 Ollie Robinson propelled England that far. 

Stuart Broad then ripped through New Zealand‘s top order under the Mount Maunganui floodlights to put the fourth innings target of 394 well beyond the hosts’ reach. 

New Zealand coach Gary Stead lamented NZ’s inability to latch onto key moments, which altered the tempo and mood of the game. 

"I thought there were times through this Test we did that really, really well," Stead said. "I think in that second innings when they were 230 [237] for 6, if we could've bowled them out in the next hour, then we bat [for] a good period of time in the daylight as well with the softer ball. They are the little variables that affected us in this Test match, but I'm looking forward to the challenge that's ahead because we know that's a big challenge."

New Zealand suffered a massive blow ahead of the second test match, with Kylie Jamieson ruled out of the series due to a suspected recurrence of a back injury. They have also resisted the urge to recall Trent Boult so far, who has recently been handed back his New Zealand central contract, with Stead backing the current lot to stage a comeback against the Three Lions. 

"They [England] are obviously playing very, very good cricket," Stead said. "I think they've won 10-11 of their last 12 Tests, and they're on a bit of a roll and playing with some real confidence. I don't think it's unfair to say we're probably lacking a little bit of that confidence at the moment because you don't get the results.

"But I can assure you that the faith is still with the group of these guys. We believe that these are our best cricketers, and we're going to put everything behind them to make sure we can go out there in Wellington and really throw punches back at England as well."

New Zealand, however, will be bolstered by the return of Matt Henry, who has joined the squad after his partner Hollyn gave birth to their daughter last week. Henry adds variety to the mix and is believed to straightaway find a place in the playing XI for the Basin Reserve test. 

"He's obviously a seasoned bowler in international cricket now," Mitchell said of Henry. "It's awesome that he has just had the birth of his little girl, and I know he'll be excited to come and join this group and hopefully take some wickets, which will be awesome. And yeah, I'm sure he'll be pretty proud to do that with his little girl watching on TV.

"Matty is my domestic team-mate at Canterbury as well, so it's always nice having him in this group. He's a fierce competitor, he will keep running in for you, he'll do the job. Look forward to having him back. I think we will all do our job and see what happens."

The spin duo of Jacob Duffy and Ish Sodhi have been released from the Test squad to compete in the four day Plunket Shield competition that will resume this week. 

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