Burns was 35 not out at lunch and added only 17 runs in more than an hour of the second session before falling for 52 not long after drinks. Captain Joe Root also fell during the second session, making only 2 from 22 balls before being caught at slip.
Joe Denly was 40 and Ben Stokes had yet to score when tea was taken. Burns shared partnerships of 52 for the first wicket with Dom Sibley, who made his test debut, and 50 for the second with Denly to give England a more solid start than it has recently been used to.
In an unexpected luxury, Root wasn't required at the crease until the 46th over when Burns was caught by wicketkeeper B.J. Watling from the bowling of Colin de Grandhomme. The medium pacer also removed Sibley (22) and had 2-23 from 16 overs at tea.
England has struggled recently to find stable and productive opening partnership and Root has been used to coming to the crease much sooner than he did Thursday. He was unable to capitalize on a more solid foundation, struggling to score before being drawn into a rash shot by Neil Wagner which was edged and caught by Tim Southee at second slip.
Burns endured a torrid trial after lunch Thursday from Neil Wagner, who peppered him with short-pitched deliveries, striking on the helmet at one point when he crouched into a low bouncer. Wagner would test Burns with a series of short deliveries, then would throw one up to entice him into a loose shot outside off stump. The tactic appeared to unsettle Burns whose scoring dried up after lunch. Through the innings, England has only managed to score at slightly more than two runs per over.
Burns finally reached his fifth half century in 14 tests in 3-1/4 hours from 135 balls and was out soon after when he pushed towards a slightly swinging delivery from de Grandhomme which took the outside edge and carried to Watling.
The dismissal was apt. Burns, on 10, had edged a ball from Trent Boult to Watling but the edge was so faint New Zealand mistakenly decided not to challenge the not out decision. He also survived a referral for lbw when, on 44, Boult struck him on the back pad but replays supported the on-field umpire's not out call.
Denly batted confidently through the second session after being 4 not out at lunch. He scored more freely than Burns and had an array of shots which tested the New Zealand bowlers. The New Zealand attack has coalesced in recent seasons around Wagner whose short-pitched barrage unsettles batsmen and makes them easier prey for his teammates.
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