England and New Zealand frustrated as rain washes out day three

Day three was washed out at Lord’s

Friday at Lord’s saw no play as the rain that arrived in the morning stuck around for the long haul, ensuring the covers remained on for the duration of day three.

It does mean England will bat into day four of this Test, which was no doubt their attention when they ended day two on 111 for two in response to New Zealand’s 378 for two. A facetious silver lining, no doubt, but the only one that could be found on a day dominated by cloud.

This first Test was intriguingly poised: the first-innings deficit of 267, a pitch that was starting to play a few tricks, with the odd delivery turning. Now, with only two days left, the prospect of a tantalising finish is that little further away, though all four results are still very much in play.

The Blackcaps had batted the best part of five sessions, with left-handed opener Devon Conway a constant throughout for his 200 on debut. And while inroads were made by the visiting attack with the removal of Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley inside seven overs, with just 18 on the scoreboard, captain Joe Root and Rory Burns rallied to put on 93 together.

Burns, on 59 not out and keen to morph this ninth fifty into a third Test century, had brought with him the domestic form for Surrey that reaped 550 runs in 10 County Championship so far this season. That run was very necessary considering the average of 14.50 from the India series from two Tests, which featured a couple of ducks, before he was dropped for the final two matches of the series.

On the flip side was Root, who looked in fine touch for his unbeaten 42. The knock also required plenty of resolve late on Thursday as Tim Southee (one for 17, so far), Neil Wagner (0 for 35) and Colin de Grandhomme (0 for 12) gave both batters a stern going over as afternoon turned to evening.

Nevertheless, Root remains, keen to go big and continue what has been a remarkable 2021. These runs have taken him past 800 runs this year (836 and counting). And he might also fancy continuing a trend of scoring a century every time he passes 50. In fact, the lowest of his three centuries so far was 186 in the second Test against Sri Lanka. A 228 in the first match of that series and 218 in the first match of the India series are the other two.

He will be keen to convert this start. Not just for himself, but to set the tone to an inexperienced batting line-up.

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