|Second Test, Seddon Park, Hamilton (day three of five):|
|New Zealand 375: Latham 105, Mitchell 73; Broad 4-73|
|England 269-5: Root 114*, Burns 101|
|England trail by 106 runs|
Joe Root returned to form as he and Rory Burns hit centuries for England, but the second Test against New Zealand remains in the balance after day three.
Root made 114 not out off 278 balls – his first Test century in 15 innings – as England closed on 269-5, 106 behind.
Captain Root put on 177 with opener Burns, who reached his second Test ton before being run out for 101.
New Zealand fought back with two wickets after tea before rain ended play 45 minutes early in Hamilton.
Ben Stokes made an attractive 26, while 21-year-old debutant Zak Crawley fell for one.
England will still hope to bat beyond the Black Caps’ first-innings 375, before attempting to bowl their hosts out cheaply.
However, further rain is forecast on the final day, with England needing to win to draw the two-Test series.
- ‘Root and England needed this century’ – Agnew analysis
- TMS podcast: Hamilton day 3 – Root is back with a century
Root hits welcome hundred
Root made two and 11 in the first-Test defeat at Mount Maunganui and was averaging 27.40 from 10 matches in 2019, form which had seen him drop out of the top 10 of the Test batting rankings for the first time since 2014.
He began the day on six and batted very patiently, not playing in his trademark busy fashion until a flurry of boundaries when he reached the nineties.
He did not play many memorable shots but did not offer a chance either, the only scare coming when he was given out caught down the leg side on 47. The decision was overturned when replays showed the ball flicked his pad.
That said, Root reached his slowest Test hundred in fortuitous fashion, bottom-edging a cut past his stumps then over wicketkeeper BJ Watling for four.
The century, his 17th in Tests, has come on a very flat pitch but it will also quieten questions around his batting since taking the captaincy – for a while at least.
This is his sixth hundred as captain and his longest innings in terms of balls faced since he succeeded Alastair Cook as skipper.
As England faltered late in the day against a disciplined New Zealand attack, Root held firm and will likely need to push on on day four to set up a chance of victory.
Burns enhances growing reputation
After the innings-and-65-run defeat in the first Test, Root stressed the importance of England batsmen converting starts into hundreds and it will please him that both he and Burns were able to do so.
It is the first time England have had two centurions in the same innings of a Test since Alastair Cook’s final match in September 2018.
Burns, who was dropped twice on day two, was more fluent than Root, although not as solid. He capitalised when New Zealand bowled too short and played a number of pleasing pulls, reaching his century from 208 balls.
He was run out two balls later, ambling the first run and falling a couple of inches short when he opted not to dive for his ground.
Still, Burns’ stand with Root was the first time England have had a partnership over 150 since Cook’s retirement, and further enhances his reputation at the top of the order.
After Burns’ departure it looked like the in-form Stokes would continue to build England’s score, but he was well taken by Ross Taylor at slip off a fine delivery from Southee which seamed away.
Kent opener Crawley, batting at number six, was almost run out as he scampered his first run in Test cricket before Neil Wagner found the outside edge with one angled across him.
‘The style of Root’s innings has become alien’ – what they said
England opener Rory Burns on BBC Test Match Special: “It’s pleasing to get the hundred. I’d like to still be out there. It was a disappointing end to it, but I’m pretty happy with how I played.
“I knew I had to get some things right from last night. I tried to do that overnight in terms of my mindset and how I was going about it. I got my tempo and rhythm back to how I wanted to bat.”
Former England batsman and batting coach Mark Ramprakash: “I really liked the way Root played today. The risk was very low. He kept the ball on the ground, he waited for the long half-volley and his pull shots were well executed.
“The style of Root’s innings has almost become alien. A lot of players these days play cricket in fast-forward mode.”
New Zealand bowler Tim Southee: “It was a docile pitch throughout. Burns and Root played nicely but the run-out opened up a little bit of an end for us.
“We got a couple of rewards late in the day and if we pick up a couple tomorrow, who knows?”