A sensational unbeaten knock of 163 from Joe Root helped England close day three of the second Test with New Zealand at Trent Bridge on 473-5, just 80 runs short of the tourist’s first innings total (England 13/5, New Zealand 12/1, Draw 2/5 – Match Betting).
Resuming on 90-1, England knew they had to produce a strong batting showing to remain in with a chance of, at the very least, preserving their 1-0 lead in the series.
Ollie Pope and Alex Lees began the day in impressive fashion, putting on a stand of 141 before the latter was dismissed for 67, but only after he had recorded his first half century in Test cricket.
Former captain Root then came to the crease and he proceeded to not only register his 27th Test century, but also the fastest of his career, as he reached three figures from just 116 balls.
Pope was the next wicket to fall, but he had more than justified his selection at number three after making 145 and putting on a stand of 187 for the fourth wicket with Root.
Jonny Bairstow could only make eight, as he became the third batter to fall off the bowling of Trent Boult, but England quickly regained their swagger through captain Ben Stokes, whose uncompromising 46 came off just 33 balls.
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Ben Foakes was next in after Stokes was caught by Boult off the bowling of Michael Bracewell, with the Surrey man ending the day unbeaten on 24 alongside Root, who closed on 163 not out and is priced at 8/11 to go on and make a double century.
Root was certainly the man everyone was talking about at stumps, with Pope quick to praise the qualities of his team-mate.
“It was awesome out there. I really enjoyed it, batting with Rooty. He is unbelievable and doing it week in, week out at the minute,” Pope told Sky Sports.
“He is so relaxed when he bats. He is in so much control. From a technical point of view, he scores so many runs down to third man. That’s what I do when I am playing well as well, so it’s a good little reminder for me.”
England still have work to do if they are to first reach and then surpass New Zealand’s first innings total, but the Black Caps will not be helped after paceman Kyle Jamieson was forced off late on Sunday with a lower back issue.
It is unclear whether Jamieson will be able to return to the field for what could be a pivotal day four on Monday, with England having seemingly swung the momentum back in their favour.
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