Jpe Root celebrates after reaching the century mark.© AFP
Joe Root swaggered to a ton yet again to continue his rich vein on the third day of the second Test against New Zealand at Trent Bridge. Replying to New Zealand’s mammoth first innings score of 553, Ollie Pope and Root took full advantage of a docile pitch to ease the pressure on England. Thanks to the pair’s commanding displays, England will expect to get close to New Zealand’s total in a match that could be destined for a high-scoring draw. Pope’s second Test century (145 off 239 balls), and his first on English soil, came after he was handed a surprise promotion to number three by England captain Ben Stokes at the start of the series. It was Pope’s first Test ton since scoring 135 not out in South Africa in January 2020.
Freed of the oppressive shackles of the England captaincy after handing the role to Stokes earlier this year, Root was in vibrant mood himself as he unfurled his full array of strokes in his 27th Test century.
Root has now equalled the record for most tons in the longest format among active cricketers. India’s Virat Kohli and Australia’s Steve Smith are the other two players to have scored 27 Test tons. Kohli has not scored a Test century since November 2019 while Smith hasn’t reached triple figures since January 2021. Root, on the other hand, has hit 10 tons in the last one and a half years.
Needing only 116 balls to reach his fastest Test ton, Root has picked up where he left off at Lord’s with a second successive century.
His match-winning 115 not out led England to a thrilling five-wicket victory over the Test world champions in the opening game of the three-match series.
Earlier, Alex Lees compiled his highest Test score of 67 before becoming the only England batsman to perish in Sunday’s first two sessions.
Daryl Mitchell’s Test-best 190 and Tom Blundell’s 106 on Saturday had put New Zealand in pole position.
But England were able to replicate New Zealand’s success in conditions perfectly suited to batting.
Root enjoyed a stroke of luck to reach his century with a miscued cut that flashed past his stumps before he waved his bat triumphantly towards his team-mates in the dressing room.
With AFP inputs
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