LEEDS- Joe Root's maiden Test century, on his Yorkshire home ground, left England well-placed in the second and final Test against New Zealand at Headingley on Saturday. England were 337 for seven at stumps on the second day after Root made 104, having come in with England in trouble on 67 for three following Friday's first day wash-out.
Together with Yorkshire colleague Jonny Bairstow (64), Root shared a fifth-wicket stand of 124. However, left-arm quick Trent Boult brought New Zealand back into the match with a new-ball burst of three wickets for three runs in 13 deliveries to remove both Yorkshiremen and Stuart Broad. But Matt Prior, dropped on 21, was 38 not out at the close, and Graeme Swann, who survived the hat-trick chance, 21 not out with their partnership so far worth 51 in just 59 balls.
The 22-year-old Root, in his sixth match at this level, was the first Yorkshire batsman in the county's 150-year history to make his first Test hundred at Headingley. It was another composed display by Root following his 71 in England's 170-run first win in the first of this two-Test series at Lord's last week and means he has now scored 861 first-class runs in seven innings this season. Earlier, England captain Alastair Cook won the toss with the sunny blue skies overhead providing seemingly ideal conditions for batting. But Tim Southee, who took 10 wickets at Lord's, had a static Nick Compton excellently caught head-high by third slip Dean Brownlie for one. England then made largely untroubled progress during a second-wicket stand of 56 between Cook (34) and Jonathan Trott (28). But Trott, driving well away from his body, was caught behind by New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum off left-arm seamer Neil Wagner. And next ball left-hander Cook flat-footedly edged recalled paceman Doug Bracewell, part of a four-man seam attack with spinners Bruce Martin (injured) and Daniel Vettori (unfit), to Brownlie as 67 for two became 67 for three. At lunch, both Ian Bell and Root were nought not out. Conditions became tougher for New Zealand's seamers but occasional off-spinner Kane Williamson lived up to his reputation as a partnership breaker when he had Bell, carelessly caught behind for 30 by McCullum, keeping wicket after BJ Watling was ruled out with a knee injury he suffered at Lord's.
It was the end of a stand worth 79 and, at tea England were 178 for four with Root 61 not out and Bairstow 13 not out. Root then surpassed his previous Test best of 73, made on his debut against India at Nagpur in December, with three fours in as many balls off Williamson -- a drive and a sweep followed by a cheeky reverse sweep.
Meanwhile Bairstow's seventh four, an on-drive off Wagner, saw the son of late Yorkshire and England wicket-keeper David Bairstow, to a 73-ball fifty and also raised a century stand with Root. Such was the crowd's nervous expectancy regarding Root's progress that even Headingley's usually raucous Western Terrace was subdued.
But the silence was well and truly broken when Root's steer for four through the slips off Bracewell saw him complete a 156-ball century, including nine boundaries. However, New Zealand took the new ball as soon as it was available and Boult's first delivery with it saw Root caught behind off a loose shot, the century-maker swishing his bat in disgust. Bairstow, also playing a poor stroke, went the same way as did Broad to give McCullum his fifth catch of the innings. However, when Prior clipped Southee to mid-wicket, Bracewell dropped the chance.
ENGLAND 1ST INNINGS:
A Cook c Brownlie b Bracewell 34
N Compton c Brownlie b Southee 1
J Trott c McCullum b Wagner 28
I Bell c McCullum b Williamson 30
J Root c McCullum b Boult 104
J Bairstow c McCullum b Boult 64
M Prior not out 38
S Broad c McCullum b Boult 0
G Swann not out 21
EXTRAS: (b5, lb7, w4, nb1) 17
TOTAL: (7 wkts, 94 overs) 337
FOW: 1-11, 2-67, 3-67, 4-146, 5-270, 6-279, 7-286
BOWLING: Boult 19-4-48-3; Southee 24-6-72-1; Wagner 23-4-73-1; Bracewell 19-3-83-1; Williamson 9-0-49-1
NEW ZEALAND: Peter Fulton, Hamish Rutherford, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Doug Brownlie, Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum (capt/wkt), Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Doug Bracewell, Trent Boult
UMPIRES: S Davis (AUS), M Erasmus (SA)
TV UMPIRE: Aleem Dar (PAK)