London: England batted slowly and carefully Sunday to hold out against New Zealand on the final day of the first test at Lord’s which saw pacer Ollie Robinson later suspended for old abusive tweets.
After England had advanced to 170-3 in 70 overs in its second innings, a draw was agreed in the two-test series opener.
England captain Joe Root defended the decision not to chase the victory target of 273 after New Zealand earlier declared its second innings at 169-6.
“If you look at the conditions, the surface, it was very challenging. It was slow, hard to time the ball, hard to get any sort of rhythm when you’re batting out there,” Root told the BBC.
“Initially we set out to have quite an open mind, see where we got to after a 15-20-over period. It got to a stage where it didn’t feel like it was quite possible to take that on.”
The Black Caps had set the game up on the final day by advancing their overnight 62-2 to a declaration during lunch with captain Kane Williamson hopeful of tempting England in the final two sessions.
But a grandstand finish failed to materialize with opener Dom Sibley’s stubborn 60 not out from 207 balls blunting the Kiwi bowlers before a draw was agreed with five overs left.
Sibley had failed to reach double figures in his last six international innings before Sunday and endured a difficult start to his knock, needing 20 balls to get off the mark.
He was still there at the close on a pitch that showed signs of uneven bounce. Root (40) put on an important 80 alongside the Warwickshire opener after the loss of two quick wickets.
A washout on day three ultimately conspired against New Zealand while Williamson believes the pitch flattening out on Sunday was a boon for England.
“Unfortunately it wasn’t to be. Losing a day to weather doesn’t help the cause to either side but I thought the efforts were certainly there,” Williamson said. “A bit of a shame but a lot of positives for the guys to take, for sure.”
New Zealand scored 378 in its first innings after winning the toss, and England replied with 275.
The second test starts Thursday at Edgbaston and England will be missing Robinson for that match.
Robinson was suspended from international cricket on Sunday pending an investigation into discriminatory tweets he posted from 2012-13, the England and Wales Cricket Board said.
Robinson made his test debut in the first match of the series at Lord’s, taking seven wickets across New Zealand’s two innings and also hitting 42 in England’s first innings.
The tweets he posted when he was 18 and 19, which were racist and sexist in nature, resurfaced during the first day of the test and Robinson was close to tears as he issued an apology after stumps.