While New Zealand began the day on 62/2, they were hell-bent on forcing a result in Lord’s, with their ultra-aggressive batting approach from the first over of the fifth day. With 273 runs to win, England had an eye on the win before they set up the 'famous' shop to deny New Zealand a victory.
Ross Taylor’s insecurity against swinging deliveries
In 2019, Ross Taylor took off in the longest format, showing a different kind of form in the New Zealand whites, which coincided with New Zealand’s domination at home. However, since then, in eight Tests, Taylor hasn’t scored a combined total of 300 runs, showcasing his vulnerability against the swinging delivery. In England, it was always going to his kryptonite, with Stuart Broad having dismissed him four times at the venue, with 67 dot deliveries. While it is certain that the New Zealand batsman is coming off an injury but his unsure attitude against swinging delivery isn’t a new episode.
Back in 2018, Taylor had famously admitted that he had issues spotting the swinging ball because of an eye condition, which was later corrected. Despite that, in the first innings, Taylor had requested the team staff to get ‘eye-drops’ against England’s all-seam attack. Both in the first and the second innings, his struggle against the swinging delivery was evident, often getting beaten in the inside half, leading to LBWs. In the second innings, with England blowing their reviews up, the Kiwi batsman had gotten a reprieve but his struggle against the swinging delivery has been well documented.
While he was dismissed pretty cheaply in the first innings, in the second he went out swinging before eventually being trapped in his crease chasing a wide delivery. With the BlackCaps set to play India, Taylor’s form would definitely be a chink in their otherwise strong armour.
New Zealand forcing a result with bat and declaration
After shooting England all-out for a first-innings lead of 103, New Zealand were out playing their strokes in the last session of the fourth day of the Test. At the end of the fourth day, New Zealand had already raced off to 62/2 in just 30 overs. When they came out to bat on the fifth day of the clash, it was widely expected that they were going to play for a draw. However, to the surprise of everyone, Neil Wagner set the precedent with his swashbuckling shots, scoring two boundaries. Once he was out, it was once again speculated that the visitors would put themselves back into a cocoon.
However, they were hell-bent on forcing a result, with the approach taken by their batting order, who seemed to punch from the word go, to set a real target and force a result in Lord’s on the last day. Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls and BJ Watling - all of them didn’t have changed their approach either, with an eye on the result. According to Cricviz, the BlackCaps were scoring at 4.7rpo in the morning session, taking a lead of 272 runs before the lunch break came calling. With New Zealand having only one win in England over the last century, Kane Williamson made the bold call of declaring the innings. From the first ball of the day, Williamson and New Zealand were out there forcing a result with the bat and later in the second and third session, with the ball.
Ollie Robinson’s all-round march
Three days of play and we haven’t mentioned Ollie Robinson, one bit. That has been how dominant New Zealand have been in the Test match, right from their batting to their bowling performance in the first innings. However, in between all of this, there was the Sussex all-rounder, who left an indelible mark on the Three Lions setup. He was everywhere, with the newer ball, with the older ball, with the bat, in the field. If England are saving themselves from facing an embarrassing loss today, Robinson is the reason behind it.
Let’s break it down further - in the first innings, with the ball, Robinson kept up his word, dismissing four crucial batsmen - Tom Latham, Ross Taylor, Colin de Grandhomme and Kyle Jamieson - for his four-fer. Later he came out with the bat, scoring an influential 42, where he looked far better than most of the English batsmen from the first innings. In fact, his 42 is the reason why England are staring at a draw and not a loss. In the second innings, there he was yet again, mightily impressive, especially his battle against Kane Williamson, which would go down as one of the best battles in this Test. One thing has become clear after three innings - Robinson is here to stay.
Neil Wagner isn’t a ‘one-trick’ pony
Let’s take the perception that Neil Wagner can only bounce out opposition and throw it out of the window. Yes, he has taken wickets bouncing out the opposition in the past, due to his role in this New Zealand bowling unit but that isn’t Wagner defined. In fact, coming into the series, he specifically stated that he still likes to swing the ball. In the absence of Trent Boult, the Kiwis needed a bowler who could get the ball to talk late back into the right-hander and who better than Wagner? Just before his delivery to dismiss the left-handed Rory Burns, Wagner got the ball to swing 3.1, 3.2, and 3.0 degrees away from the left-hander, which led to the dismissal.
It wasn’t just that, his delivery to dismiss Joe Root - one that swung right back into the right-hander was another example of how he isn’t a one-trick pony in this New Zealand setup. While his role has definitely been restricted due to the presence of Trent Boult, in his absence, Wagner continues to prove that he can swing the ball as much as the left-handed bowler. His wickets in the second innings was a prime example of that.