WELLINGTON – Neil Wagner removed England captain Joe Root shortly before the break to swing the first test back slightly in New Zealand's favour as the tourists reached 121-3 at tea on the opening day in Mt. Maunganui on Thursday.
Joe Denly was on 41, while Ben Stokes was nought not out at the break after Rory Burns (52) was dismissed less than an hour before tea shortly after reaching his fifth test half century.
Root, who needed 21 deliveries to get off the mark, was caught at third slip by Tim Southee off the next ball from Wagner, leaving his side on 120-3 and in danger of wasting a solid start provided by Burns, Denly and debutant Dom Sibley.
Burns had been dismissed by Colin de Grandhomme three balls after reaching his milestone having shared in a 52-run opening stand with Sibley (22) and a 61-run stand with Denly on a Bay Oval pitch offering little assistance to the bowlers.
The hosts, who were asked to bowl by Root after he won the toss, struggled with their lines through the first session, allowing England to work the ball into the leg side, with all of Sibley's runs coming between midwicket and fine leg.
After lunch, however, they attacked the line just outside off stump, which resulted in several nicks falling short of fielders or in one case from Burns flying between Ross Taylor and Tom Latham in the slips.
Sibley had been the only wicket to fall in the first session, grabbed by Taylor at first slip off a seaming de Grandhomme delivery.