Joe Root had no answers to Tom Latham.
Joe Root had no answers to Tom Latham.

Kiwi history-maker slays England

TOM Latham's status as the form opening batsman in world cricket was enhanced with a century as New Zealand claimed a small advantage on a rain-hit start to the second Test against England.

Only three balls were possible after tea on Friday before a storm descended on Hamilton's Seddon Park, forcing play to eventually be called off with the hosts 3-173 after being asked to bat.

The first two sessions were dominated by Latham, who notched his 11th Test ton with a straight boundary drive off England skipper Joe Root in the last over before tea.

Latham made history by becoming the first Kiwi to score five Test tons in the space of 10 successive innings.

He ended the day on 101 but could only add four more runs to his total on Saturday before being bowled by Stuart Broad.

"If I knew what it was, I'd be trying to bottle that up as much as possible," Latham said of form he hoped would continue into the upcoming three-Test series in Australia.

"It's just about trying to stick to a plan for long periods of time and that's probably what's given me success over the last year or so."

Latham was a rock on an opening day when all three wickets were pouched by Root at first slip, including Ross Taylor for 53 in the only breakthrough of the second session.

However, Root was left to wonder about the merit of inserting the hosts in conditions that weren't as lively as promised for his five-pronged seam attack.

Root will also be concerned about the fitness of all-rounder Ben Stokes, who bowled just two overs before pulling up with pain in his left knee.

Tom Latham has been unstoppable of late.
Tom Latham has been unstoppable of late.

Stokes also gave Latham a life on 66, spilling a diving chance at second slip off Jofra Archer.

Taylor passed 50 for the 50th time in Tests, his departure ending a partnership worth 116.

After a modest return in the Ashes, Woakes (2-41) was the pick of the bowlers on his Test recall, claiming the key scalps of Kane Williamson and Taylor.

"Considering I haven't had much match practice on the tour, I felt in reasonably good rhythm," Woakes said.

"It would have been nice to have had an extra one and nice to have had Latham. But I'm obviously really pleased with the two scalps, the two big players for them."

England made two significant changes to the team chasing victory to square the two-match series, having been thrashed by an innings and 65 runs in Mount Maunganui.

Woakes replaced Jack Leach, meaning the tourists went into a Test without a specialist spinner for the first time in seven years.

Wicketkeeper Jos Buttler was ruled out with a back injury, replaced by debut batsman Zak Crawley.

It meant the 'keeping duties were handed to youngster Ollie Pope, who has performed the role in just five first-class matches.