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Daryl Mitchell disappointed after New Zealand miss out on 'couple of small moments'

Matt Henry will be back for the second Test against England, as hosts seek to level the series after defeat in Mount Maunganui

Deivarayan Muthu
Daryl Mitchell produced a fighting fifty, New Zealand v England, 1st Test, Mount Maunganui, 4th day, February 19, 2023

Daryl Mitchell produced a fighting fifty at the Bay Oval  •  Getty Images

New Zealand allrounder Daryl Mitchell rues the "small moments" that slipped away from their grasp in the first Test in Mount Maunganui, but insists that there isn't a gulf between his team and England.
"If you looked into that third innings, I think we had them six down for 230-240 - I'm not sure of the exact numbers - but if we had taken a couple of quick wickets, the game could have been a lot different," Mitchell said after arriving in Wellington for the second Test.
"So, for us, it's actually not too far away. It's sticking true to who we are as Kiwis and Blackcaps, and what's worked for us for a number of years now. Yeah, we are missing a couple of small moments now, which is disappointing, but we also know that's the nature of Test cricket, and it's not always going to go your way, and it can be a bloody hard game at times. But we also know we are not too far away."
One of those small moments was New Zealand allowing England get away to 374 in their second innings after they were 237 for 6. England's innings had threatened to spiral out of control when Joe Root fell to the reverse sweep for the second time in the Test at the stroke of tea on day three. But a composed half-century from Ben Foakes, and swift cameos from captain Ben Stokes and No. 9 Ollie Robinson powered England that far.
Stuart Broad then tore through New Zealand's top order under the Mount Maunganui floodlights to put the fourth-innings chase of 394 well beyond the hosts' reach.
New Zealand coach Gary Stead lamented New Zealand's inability to throw the sucker-punch during that passage of play, which changed the mood and tempo of the game.
"I thought there were times through this Test we did that really, really well," Stead said. "I think in that second innings when they were 230 [237] for 6, if we could've bowled them out in the next hour, then we bat [for] a good period of time in the daylight as well with the softer ball. They are the little variables that affected us in this Test match, but looking forward to the challenge that's ahead because we know that's a big challenge."
New Zealand suffered a big blow ahead of the Wellington Test, with Kyle Jamieson ruled out for another three to four months with a suspected recurrence of a back injury. So far, they have also resisted the urge to recall Trent Boult, who has handed back his New Zealand central contract, with Stead backing the current group to bounce back against England.
"They [England] are obviously playing very, very good cricket," Stead said. "I think they've won 10-11 of their last 12 Tests, and they're on a bit of a roll and playing with some real confidence. I don't think it's unfair to say we're probably lacking a little bit of that confidence at the moment because you don't get the results.
"But I can assure you that the faith is still with the group of these guys. We believe that these are our best cricketers, and we're going to put everything behind them to make sure we can go out there in Wellington and really some throw punches back at England as well."
"The Basin always has a great crowd, and playing against England… the style of cricket they've been playing is an exciting one to watch"
Matt Henry is looking forward to return to action
New Zealand, however, will be boosted by the return of Matt Henry, who has linked up with the squad after his partner Holly gave birth to their daughter last week. Henry is set to directly slot into the XI at the Basin Reserve in place of either Scott Kuggeleijn or Blair Tickner.
"He's obviously a seasoned bowler in international cricket now," Mitchell said of Henry. "It's awesome that he has just had the birth of his little girl, and I know he'll be excited to come and join this group and hopefully take some wickets, which will be awesome. And yeah, I'm sure he'll be pretty proud to do that with his little girl watching on TV.
"Matty is my domestic team-mate at Canterbury as well, so it's always nice having him in this group. He's a fierce competitor, he will keep running in for you, he'll do the job. Look forward to having him back. I think we will all do our job and see what happens."
Reserve seamer Jacob Duffy and legspinner Ish Sodhi have been released from the Test squad for the four-day Plunket Shield competition that will resume this week.

Henry looking forward to 'taking it' to England in Wellington

Henry is the top wicket-taker in the Plunket Shield this season, with 23 strikes in three games at an average of 11.69. But injury sidelined him from the ODIs in Pakistan and India. Having been passed fit, Henry is now looking forward to returning to action in front of a sell-out crowd at the Basin Reserve.
"Not ideal with the injury - torn knee and everything," Henry said. "So, it has been a bit of a rehab for the last few weeks. But it has been good; kind of ones of those ones where you look forward to playing some cricket. No better place to do it than the Basin.
"Always well-supported here in Wellington. The Basin always has a great crowd and to hear it sold out for the first three days is amazing, and playing against England… the style of cricket they've been playing is an exciting one to watch as well. It has been cool to watch them play in that first game, and I'm sure everyone has learnt a lot from that first game as well and look forward to taking it to them come Friday."
The weather could play spoilsport in Wellington, with showers and strong winds predicted on the first day.

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo