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December 3, 2019

Joe Root delight as his 226 sets up England final day push


December 3, 2019

HAMILTON, New Zealand: Joe Root could not hide his delight after a masterful 226 ended his run drought and gave England a much-needed boost in the second Test against New Zealand on Monday as they ended day four believing they can square the series.

It took a five-wicket haul for the tireless Neil Wagner to bring England’s first innings to an end at 476, a lead of 101. At stumps, New Zealand were 96 for two and needing to bat late into the final day although rain may yet have the last word with further showers forecast for Tuesday.

“It felt good,” a beaming Root said as he put a stream of low scores behind him. “Once I got in and had the bit between my teeth I wanted to make it a real big one and try and get us in a position where we can force a result in this game.”

New Zealand openers Jeet Raval (nought) and Tom Latham (18) were out early in their second innings, and for Raval it continued a disappointing run in which he has failed to reach double figures in six of his last 10 innings.

But after being 28 for two, New Zealand’s most skilled batsmen Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor prevented further damage with Williamson on 37 at stumps and Taylor on 31. If Raval was feeling the pressure of his slump with an away series against Australia looming, he need only look Root’s timely double century to see fortunes can change.

England were 24 for two in their first innings when he went to the middle where he controlled proceedings in a marathon knock during which he faced 441 deliveries in nearly 11 hours. Root had partnerships of 177 with Rory Burns for the third wicket and 193 for the sixth-wicket with Ollie Pope.

On a placid wicket, Root and Pope slowly accumulated runs eary on the fourth day to ensure a first-innings lead and then picked up the pace to build on the advantage. The 21-year-old Pope, in only his fourth Test, progressed to 75 before his valuable contribution ended with an edge to yet another Wagner bouncer.

Four balls later, it was all over for Root whose exquisite timing deserted him when an attempt to hit Mitchell Santner out of the ground turned into a soft catch to Henry Nicholls at deep cover.

He left the field to a deserved standing ovation before Wagner mopped up the England tail to finish with five for 124. “I’m blessed in that with that with my body that I can bowl long spells and if you keep putting pressure on then hopefully wickets come your way,” Wagner said.

England won toss

New Zealand 1st Innings 375 all out (T Latham 105, D Mitchell 73; Broad 4-73)

England 1st Innings (overnight 269-5)

R Burns run out 101

D Sibley lbw Southee 4

J Denly c Watling b Henry 4

*J Root c Nicholls b Santner 226

B Stokes c Taylor b Southee 26

Z Crawley c Watling b Wagner 1

†O Pope c Raval b Wagner 75

S Curran not out 11

C Woakes c Watling b Wagner 0

J Archer b Wagner 8

C Broad b Wagner 0

Extras (b4, lb14, w1, nb1) 20

Total (all out; 162.5 overs) 476

Fall: 1-11, 2-24, 3-201, 4-245, 5-262, 6-455, 7-458, 8-460, 9-476, 10-476

Bowling: Southee 37-4-90-2, Henry 33-6-87-1, Wagner 35.5-3-124-5, Mitchell 22-5-69-0, Santner 35-4-88-1

New Zealand 2nd Innings

T Latham c Root b Woakes 18

J Raval lbw Curran 0

*K Williamson not out 37

R Taylor not out 31

Extras (b1, lb2, w2, p5) 10

Total (2 wickets; 34 overs) 96

Fall: 1-2, 2-28

Yet to bat: H Nicholls, †B Watling, D Mitchell, M Santner, T Southee, M Henry, N Wagner

Bowling: Broad 5-0-18-0, S Curran 8-1-26-1, Archer 7-0-19-0, Woakes 7-3-8-1, Stokes 6-1-17-0, Denly 1-1-0-0

Umpires: Kumar Dharmasena (Sri Lanka) and Paul Wilson (Australia). TV Umpire: Bruce Oxenford (Australia). Match Referee: Javagal Srinath (India)