Joe Root could not hide his delight after a masterful 226 ended his run drought and gave England a much-needed boost in the second Test against New Zealand on Monday as they ended day four believing they 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 were 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.
“It felt good,” a beaming Root said as he put a stream of low scores behind him.
New Zealand openers Jeet Raval (nought) and Tom Latham (18) were out early in their second innings, and for Raval it continued a disappointing run in which he has failed to reach double figures in six of his last 10 innings.
But after being 28 for two, New Zealand’s most skilled batsmen Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor prevented further damage with Williamson on 37 at stumps and Taylor on 31.
If Raval was feeling the pressure of his slump with an away series against Australia looming, he need only look Root’s timely double century to see fortunes can change.
SCORES IN BRIEF
NEW ZEALAND: First innings 375 and second innings 96 for 2 (Williamson 37 not out, Taylor 31 not out 31; Stokes 1-17)
ENGLAND: First innings 476 all out (Burns 101, Root 226, Stokes 26, Pope 75; Southee 2-90, Wagner 5-124)