HAMILTON: Joe Root celebrated a timely return to form with a double ton as England forged a 101-run lead over New Zealand in the second Test in Hamilton on Monday.
After the tourists had established a respectable total, tireless New Zealand short-ball specialist Neil Wagner ripped through the tail to finish with five wickets as England were all out at tea for 476 in reply to New Zealand’s first innings 375.
Root spent nearly 11 hours at the crease in compiling 226, his second-highest score of an 88-Test career.
With England needing to win to square the series after being thoroughly outplayed in the first Test, Root and Ollie Pope batted patiently to get England ahead before they lifted the scoring rate and wickets fell.
After resuming the day at 269 for five the pair took England to 455 before Wagner worked his magic with an old ball on a placid pitch and England’s last five wickets fell for 21 runs.
It was spinner Mitchell Santner, however, who accounted for Root.
The England captain had faced 440 balls in a near chanceless performance when his exquisite timing deserted him and an attempt to hit the New Zealand spinner out of the ground became a comfortable catch for Henry Nicholls at deep cover.
After going to the middle when England were in early trouble at 24 for two, Root was patience personified as he found the form that has eluded him for most of the year.
With Rory Burns, he put on 177 for the third wicket and added 193 for the sixth wicket with Pope.
Pope went for 75, his maiden Test half-century and four balls later Root was also gone, with the crowd standing to applaud as he made his way back to the pavilion.
Wagner then raced through the tail to finish with five for 124, his second five-wicket haul in the series.