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  • England Lions v New Zealand

England Lions vs New Zealand

Match info: Tour Matches in England 2013 at Grace Road, Leicester

Date: 12th May 2013 Status: Day 4 of 4 Umpires: J W Lloyds and P R Pollard

Home team and score Away team score

England Lions

444/7 (114.0 Overs)

Result

New Zealand

285 All out (74.5 Overs)

Match Drawn

  • Last Updated: May 13 2013, 7:20 BST

Joe Root carried out his England Lions orders to a tee as he "ground down" New Zealand at Grace Road and took his first-class runs tally to 646 in his prolific start to the new season.

Joe Root: Carried on his fine form
Joe Root: Carried on his fine form

The Lions captain's six-and-a-quarter-hour 179 out of 444 for seven - his second-lowest score so far this summer - ensured the Lions finished a rain-wrecked fixture in a dominant position.

That was just what match manager, and England's limited-overs coach, Ashley Giles had asked of his team of Test hopefuls to keep the tourists on the back foot before they head to Lord's. With that first Test and then a second on his home ground at Headingley to come, it is conceivable that Root could yet become the first Englishman in 75 years, and only the sixth ever, to pass 1,000 runs by the end of May.

The last batsman to achieve the feat in an English season was Zimbabwe-born Graeme Hick, in 1988, and new Test opener Nick Compton had an agonising near miss just last year.

Root's prospects remain unlikely, of course, but he has done enough to keep them just about realistic.

Irrespective of fanciful targets like that, Giles was once again impressed by what he had seen from the young Yorkshireman here.

"We talked about grinding them down, and we did," he said.

"It's great. Joe works very hard, and very specifically as well, and he's worked his game out.

"We still need to be guarded on how much we build the lad up - he's only played a few Tests - but so far so good."

On the final day in Leicester, where only four overs were possible after lunch because of rain, Root was still hungry for more runs.

The 22-year-old moved past 150 on Sunday morning in the same over which saw his fifth-wicket partner Jonny Bairstow (68) reach his half-century - the latter with an inside-edge past leg-stump for four off Trent Boult.

Bairstow later fell lbw when Boult (three for 86) got enough movement back in from over the wicket.

But joined by Ravi Bopara, Root continued until Doug Bracewell got through his forward defence to hit off stump and at last end a 276-ball innings which had contained 25 fours and a six.

Root's only significant blemish came two days ago, when he was put down at second slip by Kiwi captain Brendon McCullum off Bracewell on 23.

The Lions' hopes of putting New Zealand under more pressure in their second innings predictably evaporated as the rain arrived, with the lead 159.

In the absence of Tim Southee who pulled up with a foot injury on Saturday, Boult again bowled well - and Bracewell saw off Chris Woakes for a single when the Warwickshire all-rounder played a long way inside a useful delivery.

For the Lions, Bopara batted with increasing fluency and confidence to finish unbeaten on 42.

Giles could reflect with satisfaction after the Lions had put a poor first day behind them.

"We're very thorough in our pre-match plans to batsmen, and we just didn't get it right the first day," he said.

"They were really difficult conditions. That gale was tough, but that's what you're going to have to put up with in Test cricket at times.

"But it was great for us to see those four big lads operate together, and certainly when they came back on day two and took seven for 101 it was a good performance.

"Then even more pleasing was the way we went about it with the bat.

"I thought Boult bowled really well in this game, so they did really well to come through some of those periods."

Meanwhile, Southee has had scans on his sore foot, but New Zealand are awaiting more results of those to determine whether he is likely to be a doubt for the first Test at Lord's.