GUPTILL STRIKES RAPID HALF CENTURY AS NEW ZEALAND STRETCH LEAD ON DAY THREE

Martin Guptill hit 70 off 72 balls as New Zealand reached 338-6 at close on day three at Headingley.

BJ Watling also became the first Black Caps player to score a century in the match, as the tourists now lead England by 338 in their second innings.

Mark Wood was the pick of the bowlers, taking 3 for 64 runs as the Three Lions require four more wickets so they can begin their chase of the target.

England began the day at the crease, looking to build on the 253-5 they had reached on day two, and attempt to wipe out the 97 run deficit that still remained.

It was the tourists who flew out of the traps, taking three wickets within the first half an hour of play for the loss of just 14 runs.

With the hosts now firmly on the back foot, Stuart Broad and Mark Wood steadied the ship, putting on a crucial 51 run partnership, increasing the score to 318-8.

Wood was caught by Luke Ronchi off the bowling of Mark Craig for 19, with England still 32 runs behind the Kiwis.

Broad powered on and helped the Three Lions get to the 350 mark before being bowled by Matt Henry, just four short of his half century.

It was only the eighth time in Test Match history two sides have made the same score in the first innings.

New Zealand negotiated a tricky 15 minute period before lunch, reaching 7-0 at the break, with openers Tom Latham and Guptill at the crease.

England got the breakthrough shortly after the restart with Jos Buttler catching Latham off the bowling of Broad.

This was a landmark wicket for the England pace-man, picking up his 500th first-class wicket.

Broad soon had his second of the innings, getting danger man Kane Williamson out cheaply for 6 with a thin edge through to Buttler, as New Zealand struggled to get any momentum at 23-2.

With Guptill and Ross Tylor looking to get a bit of impetus, on 42-2 Taylor was dropped by Gary Ballance at slip, and this proved pivotal.

The two batsmen drove on and got past the 100 mark on 47 and 40 runs respectively.

Guptill reached his half century five minutes later, hitting an explosive six straight over bowler Moeen Ali’s head, completing his half century in 47 deliveries.

The partnership was eventually broken for 99 by Wood, agonisingly short of a century stand, with Ben Stokes catching Taylor at extra cover, who himself was just two runs short of a half century.

Guptill was dismissed by Wood for 70 which meant that two relatively fresh batsmen were now at the crease.

Captain Brendan McCullum and BJ Watling both played a key part in the innings as they thwarted the England bowlers in the evening session.

Watling reached his 11th Test fifty off 79 balls hitting a sweep off Ali, before being dropped by Buttler just ten minutes later with a tough chance low down to his left at 223-4 and this proved to be costly for the hosts.

The skipper hit a measured 50 off 79 deliveries, taking him past the milestone of 6,000 Test runs, before being trapped LBW by Wood for 55, with the scoreboard showing 262-5.

Watling punished England for the drop, and completed the innings of the day claiming his fifth Test century off 136 balls, ending the day not out with the lead already at a mammoth 338 with two days left to play and four wickets in hand.

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By Matthew Tilbury, Image Credit to Sky Sports