Watling hits Test best as New Zealand extend lead over England

Mount Maunganui (New Zealand) (AFP) –


BJ Watling reached a career-best 148 and pushed his seventh-wicket stand with Mitchell Santner to 136 as New Zealand built a commanding lead over England in the first Test on Sunday.

At lunch on day four in Mount Maunganui, with a slow-paced Bay Oval wicket offering little encouragement to the quick bowlers, New Zealand were 452 for six in their first innings, a lead of 99.

BJ Watling, whose previous best was an unbeaten 142 nearly five years ago, added 29 to his overnight 119 while Santner advanced from 31 to 55 for his third Test half-century.

Three balls before lunch Watling took a glancing blow to the helmet from Jofra Archer but after a medical check he was cleared to carry on and guided the last ball of a wicketless session to the boundary.

Watling has enjoyed a century stands with Colin de Grandhomme and Santner to swing the game in New Zealand's favour after they were reduced to 197 for five on Saturday.

They now face the question, with five sessions remaining, of how big a lead they require before declaring.

Maiden overs were the order of a gentle first hour as Watling and Santner eased their way into the fourth day.

The first 11 overs produced only three scoring shots and New Zealand scored just 19 runs in the first hour before adding 39 the second.

Joe Root did find the edge of Santner's bat on 40 but Jos Buttler was unable to grab the ball behind the stumps.