Second Test, New Zealand v England | Root century as England fight back

Joe Root celebrates his century
Joe Root celebrates his century

Joe Root resolved to bat through the entire third day of the second Test against New Zealand and finished unbeaten on 114 as England moved to 269-5 in reply to New Zealand's 375.

Scorecard

New Zealand 375 Latham 105, Broad 4-73

England 269-5 Root 114* Burns 101


Joe Root resolved to bat through the entire third day of the second Test against New Zealand as the England captain temporarily silenced his detractors with a resolute century at Hamilton.

There has been scrutiny over whether the captaincy is impinging on Root's batting because of his average of just 27.4 in his 10 previous Tests this year, but he ended his lean trot with an unbeaten 114 at Seddon Park.

His 17th Test hundred, allied to Rory Burns's 101, carried England to 269 for five - still trailing New Zealand by 106 before the players were brought off with 16.2 overs still left in the day because of rain.

Root may not have been at his most fluent, and only 39 of his runs came in front of square, but he judged his innings on a slow surface expertly, reaching three figures for only the second time this year.

There were a number of flicks into the leg-side as he contented himself with playing on the back foot, while the 259 balls it took him to reach his hundred was his slowest in England whites.

But he offered New Zealand's willing attack no chances while his 177-run stand alongside Burns was only ended after the opener was run out, inches short of his ground, after coming back for a second run.

Burns had a couple of minor challenges in his innings but overcame them superbly as he recorded just his second Test hundred and first overseas, before his dismissal saw England slip from 201 for two to 262 for five.

Root was still there at the close and will resume on day four, alongside Ollie Pope, on four not out, looking to push England towards a first-innings lead which could determine the outcome of the contest and series.

Resuming on 39 for two on Sunday morning, Burns and Root had the words of Stuart Broad ringing in their ears, the seamer saying the previous evening "if you were good at batting, you'd fancy" batting on the benign surface.

Indeed, Broad tipped Burns as the key batsman despite the opener being dropped twice on Saturday night. New Zealand may have had the whip hand at the start of the day but Burns and Root steeled themselves for the long haul.

A Neil Wagner bouncer thudded into the chest of Burns, who glanced the next delivery beyond the despairing dive of leg gully, but any doubts about him under the short ball vanished when he pulled the left-arm seamer for back-to-back fours.

Burns top-edged Daryl Mitchell short of the deep square-leg fielder and Root jammed his bat down a Wagner knuckle ball that hooped in, while the England skipper overturned a caught behind decision on 47, immediately reviewing after umpire Paul Wilson wrongfully adjudged he had been strangled down the leg-side off Mitchell.

The pair went past half-centuries before lunch and after that there were remarkably few alarms for a side whose batting has been constantly under scrutiny as Burns and Root settled into a patient rhythm.

Indeed, the only worry for England seemed to be some miscommunication between Root and Burns, who was sent back attempting a second on 87 and survived only because Matt Henry interfered with a throw from mid-on.

But immediately after reaching a 208-ball ton, Burns perished when Jeet Raval's throw from the leg-side led to BJ Watling whipping off the bails with the England batsman short of his ground.

Ben Stokes looked in fine fettle but departed for 26 when Tim Southee extracted a fraction of movement away from the left-hander and Ross Taylor scooped the edge just above the ground at first slip.

Root clipped Wagner fine for four to get to 99 before an under-edge off the next ball bounced over wicketkeeper Watling and away to the boundary - one of very few loose strokes.

The moment marked the first time since September last year that two Englishmen have amassed Test hundreds in the same innings - when Root and Sir Alastair Cook did so in the latter's last Test against India at The Oval.

Zak Crawley got off the mark in Tests with a hurried single - diving to make his ground - but that was his only contribution as Wagner angled one across him and Watling took a simple catch.

By this stage, the skies were turning increasingly leaden and the floodlights were turned on before the heavens opened, leading to a swift end to proceedings for the day.


Reaction

Rory Burns insists Joe Root has the backing of everyone in the England camp after the pair both recorded centuries on day three of the second Test against New Zealand at Hamilton.

There has been scrutiny over whether the captaincy is impinging on Root's batting because of his average of just 27.4 in his 10 previous Tests this year, but he ended his lean trot with an unbeaten 114 at Seddon Park.

The 259 deliveries Root took to reach three figures was the slowest of his 17 Test hundreds, six of them have come at the helm of the side, but his innings, allied to Burns' 101, helped England to 269 for five.

The tourists were denied the chance to reduce arrears of 106 further after rain washed out the last hour but Root will be at the crease at the start of day four as England go in search of a first-innings lead.

Burns said: "It's obviously really nice to see the skipper get his runs.

"He's a very good player and a lot of stuff has been potentially said in recent times. Not scoring runs as a batsman might bring other things into the equation which isn't necessarily true.

"It's because when he bats like that, everyone's behind him and knows exactly what he can do.

"For Rooty to get those runs, he'll be feeling very good but he also knows that there's more runs to be had and there's another partnership to get into and can we extend this and can we stretch the game in our favour."

Root's 177-run stand alongside Burns came a day after England seamer Stuart Broad had said: "If you're a batsman, you'd want to bat out there."

Broad added that Burns was the key batsman on a surface that was benign for most of the day, allowing the Surrey captain and Root to accumulate steadily against a willing but largely nonthreatening attack

Asked whether the words of Broad were still ringing in his ears Burns, who was dropped twice on Saturday night, said: "I didn't read that - he told me.

"I'm not sure he said that I was the key wicket, he just said that he fancied me, slightly. I'm glad that I made his words come true.

"I just tried to apply myself for as long as I could, it came to a slightly disappointing end but I thought I played quite well."

Root and Burns were only parted when the opener came back for a second run and was short of his ground by the thinnest of margins.

Burns added: "It was my call at the end of the day and that's where my Surrey strength and conditioning coach will be slightly disappointed because he prides himself on my run twos. I've probably let him down there.

"I enjoyed the fact that I got it but at the same time I'm disappointed that I couldn't stretch that and me and Rooty couldn't stretch our partnership and get us deeper into the game."

Burns' dismissal saw England slip from 201 for two to 262 for five, which New Zealand seamer Tim Southee thinks has shifted the momentum slightly.

He said: "I think it's pretty evenly poised. If we're able to grab a couple of wickets early then I guess it's up to us to finish it off. On the flip side if England bat well then it strengthens their position."

New Zealand managed to restrict Root to scores of two and 11 at Mount Maunganui, where New Zealand's innings win put them into an unassailable 1-0 lead in this two-Test series.

Root has subsequently fallen out of the top 10 in the International Cricket Council's Test batting rankings but Southee always feared it would not be long before he hit his stride.

Southee added: "There's always that worry when good players miss out. He's had a little bit of a dry patch and being the quality player that he is, it was only a matter of time before he was able to score a big one.

"We were hoping it was going to be another couple of weeks but he played nicely when his team needed him."

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