Joe Root’s masterful 226 to highlight a return to form gave England a much-needed boost in the second Test against New Zealand on Monday as it ended day four believing it 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 was 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.
Earlier, Root controlled proceedings in a marathon innings in which he faced 441 deliveries in nearly 11 hours. It was his third double century, his longest innings in terms of time and balls faced and it ended just 28 runs short of his Test best 254 against Pakistan three years ago.
He restored his own confidence and arrested England’s slide in an initial partnership of 177 with Rory Burns for the third wicket followed by a convincing 193-run sixth-wicket stand with Ollie Pope.
The 21-year-old Pope, in only his fourth Test, progressed to 75 before his valuable contribution ended.
After the sterling efforts of Root and Pope kept New Zealand at bay for more than 62 overs, the last five England wickets fell for 21 runs in the space of six overs.
New Zealand — 1st innings: 375.
England — 1st innings: R. Burns run out 101, D. Sibley lbw b 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 (b-4, lb-14, w-1, nb-1): 20; Total (in 162.5 overs): 476.
Fall of wickets: 1-11, 2-24, 3-201, 4-245, 5-262, 6-455, 7-458, 8-460, 9-476.
New Zealand 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 b Curran 0, K. Williamson (batting) 37, R. Taylor (batting) 31; Extras: (b-1, lb-2, w-2, p-5): 10; Total (for two wkts. in 34 overs): 96.
Fall of wickets: 1-2, 2-28.
England bowling: Broad 5-0-18-0, 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.