NOTTINGHAM, England (Reuters) - Daryl Mitchell scored an unbeaten 81, and splashed a six into a spectator's pint of beer, as New Zealand cruised to 318-4 from 87 overs at the end of the opening day of the second test against England at Trent Bridge on Friday.
Needing a win to level the three-match series after a stinging five wicket defeat at Lord's last weekend, and without captain and leading batsman Kane Williamson, the Black Caps started by losing the toss and being put in to bat.
The absence of Williamson, in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19 on the eve of the match, proved less of a setback than expected as the visitors reached 108-2 at lunch and 195-4 at tea.
They were helped on a day of entertaining cricket by England's fielders missing plenty of chances.
"England as a collective have not fielded well. Not just the dropped catches, but diving over a few and others going through their hands," former England captain Michael Vaughan told listeners on BBC Test Match Special.
"England were magnificent at Lord's but today it was like putting on an old sweater. The team of the last two years is back."
Joe Root dropped one catch and Zak Crawley let slip another chance after England, unchanged from the first test, had grabbed back-to-back wickets just before lunch.
New Zealand's opening stand was the highest in a test at the ground since 2005 but both openers departed in the space of two balls.
England captain Ben Stokes provided the breakthrough, taking the ball and having Will Young caught for 47 by a diving Crawley at second slip.
New Zealand had been 84-0 and it was 84-2 when stand-in captain Tom Latham fell to Matthew Potts off James Anderson at midwicket.
The visitors morning score was still a vast improvement on the 39-6 at lunch on the opening day of the first test at Lord's.
Anderson and Stokes each took a pair of wickets, with the captain's two for 40 coming from 12 overs.
New Zealand were 161-3 when Ben Foakes caught Henry Nicholls (30) behind off Stokes and the Black Caps slipped to 169-4 after the wicket keeper repeated the feat with Devon Conway (46) from an Anderson delivery.
Crawley dived across Root in a failed bid to catch Nicholls and Root missed an easier offering from Mitchell when the batsman was on one.
Mitchell, who provided a light-hearted moment when he smashed a six clear into the stands with the ball landing with a splash in someone's beer, ended the day on an unbeaten 149 partnership with Tom Blundell.
England's Barmy Army supporters' club said on Twitter the Black Caps had bought the female fan a replacement pint.
New Zealand handed all-rounder Michael Bracewell his test debut as injured Colin de Grandhomme's replacement in the middle order while Matt Henry returned in place of Ajaz Patel and Nicholls filled the gap left by Williamson.
The final test is at Headingley from June 23.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Toby Davis and Pritha Sarkar)