Perfect days are rare in international cricket, but New Zealand's first as host of day-night Test cricket was as close as they come.Trent BoultandTim Southee, New Zealand's best Test bowlers, first combined to blow away England for 58, their sixth-lowest Test score. ThenKane Williamson, their best Test batsman, ensured they capitalised with a delectable, unbeaten 91 that stretched New Zealand's lead to 117.
It all began under mostly cloudless skies in Auckland, with the pink ball. In any conditions, facing swing bowling has its challenges. Against a swing bowler with pace, accuracy and mastery over his craft, that task gets exponentially harder. Boult is usually in the mid-130kmph range, but his nagging precision gives batsmen lesser time to react. He is also a smart bowler, often using the width of the crease to create angles that trouble the batsmen. All of that was on show as he finished with 6 for 32, his best Test returns.
At the other end, Southee provided ample support, using his own modus operandi - subtle changes in line, length, pace and movement - to nip out figures of 4 for 25. New Zealand didn't require any other bowler, and it was only because of No. 9 Craig Overton's freewheeling 25-ball 33 that England didn't fall to their lowest total ever - 45 all out in 1887.
First to go was Alastair Cook. Boult, using the width of the crease and enough lateral movement, found Cook's outside edge, the catch taken comfortably at second slip. Then, Joe Root, having moved to No. 3 after leaving James Vince out after a sub-par Ashes, was bowled through a massive gap between bat and pad. Boult's late movement had accounted for England's best Test batsmen. With the ball still moving, in the air and off the pitch, against two bowlers at the top of their game, did the rest even have a chance?400thTest wicket. Williamson, meanwhile, kept growing in confidence.
Prior to the dinner break, he struck several languid drives through the covers, waiting for bowlers to err in line. When they did, he picked them off square on the leg side. His scoring rate deteriorated slightly after the break, but not the quality of his defensive technique or his shot selection. Even though the ball began to seam under lights, Williamson was untroubled, as New Zealand assumed complete control.