Buttler hits 73 in vain as New Zealand cruise to victory at Headingley

Jos Buttler top scored for the hosts with 73 off 147 balls as England looked for at least the draw required to win series, but the Kiwis took 10 final day wickets as they waltzed to a 199 run victory to tie it all up.

Mark Craig backed up his half century the day before with three wickets, but Kane Williamson produced the bowling figures of the day claiming a trio of wickets off seven overs for just 15 runs.

Adam Lyth and captain Alistair Cook began the day at the crease with the scoreboard showing 44-0, chasing an improbable 455.

It did not take long for the tourists to get the break through with Lyth edging through to Luke Ronchi off Trent Boult just 10 minutes into the day’s play.

England struggled to get momentum, and half an hour later Boult clean bowled Gary Ballance for six with only 17 runs added.

Within the space of another 15 minutes, New Zealand had broken into England’s middle order, with Ian Bell and Joe Root both falling cheaply to Williamson and Craig respectively, with the scoreboard showing 62-4 with still over 80 overs left to bowl.

Despite watching partners come and go at the other of the wicket,  Cook stayed firm and entered the 30’s, and consequently became the first English batsman to score over 1000 Test runs against five different countries including today’s opponents.

Things briefly settled down, and Ben Stokes helped his skipper see England past the 100 mark, hitting 29 with five fours.

Right on the cusp of lunch, the all-rounder was caught by Ronchi off Williamson, and England had lost their fifth wicket in the morning session adding just 58 runs.

After the restart, the Three Lions enjoyed their best spell of the day so far, with Cook reaching a resilient 50 with a powerful cut through cover.

The England skipper then reached his second milestone of the day, passing 9,000 test runs becoming the youngest ever player to reach that target, beating Sachin Tendulkar by 94 days.

His valiant innings was over shortly after, being trapped LBW by Williamson for 56, and the hosts’ tail was well and truly exposed with the Kiwis going for the jugular, at 141-6.

Things did not get any better for the Three Lions and an hour on from Cook’s dismissal, another two wickets had been lost.

Buttler did his best to thwart the New Zealand attack, hitting a six to bring up 200 mark, but he was running out of partners.

He reached a hard fought half century off 111 balls in the evening session with just under 30 overs remaining.

The tourists came within one wicket of victory after dismissing Mark Wood in the slips for 17, but the English tail-ender had crucially soaked up 40 deliveries for the hosts.

Buttler increased his score to 73 before falling LBW to Craig offering no shot, and England had succumbed to defeat as New Zealand claimed their first Test win in England since 1999.

The margin of victory was 199 runs, and is the Kiwis biggest ever victory over the Three Lions, leaving the two match series tied 1-1.

The one day series between the two sides will kick off at Edgbaston on the 9th of June.

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By Matthew Tilbury, Image Credit to ECB.