WELLINGTON // England's Nick Compton and Jonathan Trott punctured New Zealand's growing bubble of self-belief as they both scored centuries to guide their side to an imposing 267 for two at the close of play on the first day of the second Test.
The hosts had entered the match with a burgeoning sense of confidence after a credible performance in the drawn first Test in Dunedin, though England's batsmen brought them back to earth with a ruthlessly efficient display.
Trott was 121 not out, his ninth century, at stumps after he and Compton combined for a 210-run partnership on a Basin Reserve pitch that was offering New Zealand little assistance. Kevin Pietersen was on 18 at the close of play. Compton had been dismissed in the final hour for 100, his second Test century.
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum had won the toss and chosen to bowl to try to extract whatever help they could get from the pitch expected to offer more pace and bounce than University Oval in Dunedin.
Compton and Trott, however, made him pay for that decision, comfortably dealing with the lack of swing, seam movement and penetration by the New Zealand bowlers, who consistently failed to force them to play at deliveries or create any sustained pressure. Captain Alastair Cook (17) was the only wicket to fall in the first session when he appeared to get through his shot a little ahead of the delivery from left arm pace bowler Neil Wagner and it spooned to Peter Fulton at mid-on.
Compton and Trott then dominated the rest of the day's play.
They guided the visitors through to 162 for one at tea and then appeared to be engaged in a race between themselves as the first to three figures when play resumed in the final session. Trott belted two boundaries in one Bruce Martin over, then Compton responded in the next by Trent Boult, dispatching the left arm medium pace bowler to the fence twice.
The 31-year-old Trott, however, reached the mark first when he rocked back and pulled a short Wagner delivery to the square-leg fence for the 14th boundary of his 174-ball innings.
Compton wasted little time in joining him, effortlessly driving a full Wagner delivery in the left armer's next over through the covers for his 15th boundary. The 29-year-old Compton, who scored his maiden test century in the second innings in Dunedin, punched the air in delight before the ball had even reached the boundary to celebrate the achievement.
Compton, however, did not capitalise, driving at a full delivery from left-arm spinner Martin in the first over after drinks only for the ball to bounce and turn just enough to catch an edge and fly to Ross Taylor at slip.
And therefore the first hour of play on the second day is likely to have a crucial bearing on the possible outcome of the match, both sides said.
"It's important we have a good session tomorrow and set up the game," Trott said. "You don't want to undo today's work by being a bit lazy and taking things for granted and looking too far ahead in terms of a declaration or that sort of stuff.
"That will take care of itself if we look after the first hour tomorrow and that is the first mission I think."
Trott was especially pleased to have scored his ninth Test century after he missed out on a big score in the drawn first match in Dunedin.
"When I was 99," he said with a smile when asked if there was any point during his innings when he felt he would pass three figures. "I was trying not to think too far ahead, it's a long way from nought. In the context of starting an innings, you never really want to pre-empt anything or look too far ahead.
"I felt pretty good, I felt my feet were moving all right [and] it's nice to get some runs after Dunedin, where I should have maybe got a few more, but that's cricket really."
The second new ball was taken just before stumps and will be 10 overs old when play resumes, which New Zealand pace bowler Tim Southee said the home side must exploit to get back into the match.
"It's a big start tomorrow and hopefully we can get into them early," Southee said. "If we can build some pressure, and we know from previous games here if you grab one you can grab a couple so we'll be looking to do that in the morning.
"It was a tough day [on Thursday]," Southee said. "I don't think we started particularly well with the new ball in favourable conditions and that little period after lunch wasn't great.
"But in between that we managed to dry it up and if we grabbed a couple if wickets it could have been a different story."
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