Jpe Root celebrates after reaching the century mark.© AFP
Joe Root again swam to a ton to continue his rich vein on the third day of the second Test against New Zealand at Trent Bridge. Responding to New Zealand’s massive score of 553 in the first innings, Ollie Pope and Root took full advantage of a docile pitch to ease the pressure on England. Thanks to the pair’s impressive displays, England will expect to get close to New Zealand’s tally in a match that could end in a high-scoring draw. Pope’s second Test Century (145 from 239 balls), and his first on English soil, came after he received a surprise promotion to number three from England captain Ben Stokes at the start of the series. It was the Pope’s first test ton since he failed to score 135 in South Africa in January 2020.
Freed from the oppressive shackles of the England captaincy after handing over the role to Stokes earlier this year, Root himself was in a lively mood as he unfolded his full range of blows in his 27th Test century.
Root has now equaled the record for most tons in longest format among active cricketers. Virat Kohli from India and Steve Smith from Australia are the other two players who have scored 27 test tons. Kohli has not scored a Test century since November 2019, while Smith has not reached triple digits since January 2021. Root, on the other hand, has reached 10 tons in the past year and a half.
With just 116 balls to reach his fastest test barrel, Root has picked up where he left off at Lord’s for the second straight 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.
Previously, Alex Lees collected his highest test score of 67 before becoming the only England batsman to die in Sunday’s first two sessions.
Daryl Mitchell’s Test-best 190 and Tom Blundell’s 106 on Saturday had put New Zealand on pole position.
But England were able to match New Zealand’s success in conditions perfectly suited to batting.
Root had a stroke of luck reaching his century with a misplaced cut that flashed past his stumps before triumphantly swinging his bat at his teammates in the locker room.
With AFP inputs
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