England 141 (Crawley 43, Southee 4-55) and 279 for 5 (Root 115*, Stokes 54, Jamieson 4-79) beat New Zealand 132 (de Grandhomme 42*, Potts 4-13, Anderson 4-66) and 285 (Mitchell 108, Blundell 96)
That the result remained in the balance, after England had reached 59 without loss in reply to New Zealand’s first-innings 132, was testament to the fighting qualities shown by Kane Williamson’s side. Having limited England to a nine-run lead, they had the look of favourites after the 195-run stand between Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell – but Stuart Broad inspired another turnaround and the game continued to ebb and flow until Root’s decisive contribution.
He finished the job himself with three fours in an over from Tim Southee, walking off to a standing ovation, as well as handshakes from the opposition. This was his 26th Test hundred, his third of the year already, and his first back in the ranks. Life under the new regime hasn’t changed a jot for Root.
Despite a murky morning greeting those arriving at Lord’s, it was soon clear that New Zealand had their work cut out for them. The juice that contributed to 23 wickets falling across the first four sessions of the Test had long since dissipated, and they began the day with a ball that was 65 overs old. Root shuffled down to Southee’s first delivery, pushing hard but settling for one after flicking off his pads, as England looked to start positively.
The prospect of the second new ball coming around an hour into the day encouraged the venturesome approach. After Stokes’ frenetic counter shifted the balance on the third afternoon, Root had ticked up almost imperceptibly through the gears – from 34 off 89 at the point when England lost their fifth wicket, he scored at exactly a run a ball to finish on 115 from 170.
There was greater intent about Foakes, too. Kyle Jamieson, who threatened to decide the contest single-handedly on Saturday, returned to the attack in the third over, having shifted back around to the Nursery End. His second ball was driven confidently back through mid-on by Foakes, only a diving stop from Southee preventing four, and the wicketkeeper further settled England nerves a couple of overs later by threading the first boundary of the morning through backward point.
By that point, any tension about England’s ability to knock off the runs had eased. Williamson gamely made several attempts to get the ball changed, but the breakthrough that would have given New Zealand a crack at the home side’s lengthy tail was not forthcoming, and the winning runs came inside 14 overs – Root’s beneficence extending to a full refund for the crowd – and before the weather could close in to delay the inevitable, putting England 1-0 up in the three-match series.
(With Inputs from ESPN)
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