New Zealand vs England: Day three of second Test in a nutshell
Joe Root bats extended to answer his critics, Rory Burns at the runs well but do England have the time? Here’s what you want to understand from day three in Hamilton…
SCORECARD | HOW IT HAPPENED
Joe Root returned to form to strike on his 17th Test century although of forcing a win England’s hopes were dealt a setback when rain curtailed evening three, writes Sam Drury.
The England captain had come under increasing pressure resulting into the game following a heavy defeat in Mount Maunganui and his own bad run of form with the bat but came out fighting at Hamilton to end his nine-month wait to get a Test hundredending the day on 114.
Rory Burns (101) even made an impressive century, placing on 177 with Root for the next wicket, until he had been run out soon before tea.
New Zealand fought in the night session with all the wickets of Ben Stokes and debutant Zak Crawley but Root and Ollie Pope awakened along with the vacationers were 269-5, still tracking by 106, when the skies opened and pushed the players away with around one hour of play still staying.
All of the talk ahead of this Test match was all about Root and whether he was the perfect man. The concern was that the captaincy was having a negative affect on his batting. There is no doubt he was under huge pressure and, boydid respond.
Root cared a jot, although the shooter to carry him was an under-edge that bounced up and over BJ Watling behind the stumps far from pretty. The smile on his face said it allthe critics were silenced – for now, at least but more importantly he had been back to doing what he does best, scoring runs for England.
Naturally, the captain wasn’t the sole England batsman to register a ton on day three, Burns left New Zealand cover both dropped catches late on the second day as he went on to score his second Test hundred but he was denied the opportunity to make it a large one by a streak out only a few balls later.
Joe Root has faced more balls in this innings (278) than he has in some of his prior innings as England captain.
Root return to form will delight the England camp no end, since would Burns’ ton, but finally Test cricket is about winning matches and even though an inviting day using the bat, yet another afternoon cut short by rain means time is contrary to them as they pursue a series-levelling win.
They still need another 107 to move past New Zealand’s first innings total and also more rain forecast for another couple of days along with a pitch showing little indication of deteriorating, will England run out of period?
New Zealand would happily take a lure and walk away with the show win and those three wickets either side of tea encouraged their odds of doing so before the rain came, slowing England’s progress and even keeping alive the possibility of them earn a first-innings result, something that appeared from the question when Burns and Spread were batting together.
“England have got to be thinking that there will be 98 overs each on days four and five,” explained David Lloyd. “There is a bit of rain about daily four, we are told, but they should have a thought of trying to win the game and the only way we believe they can do it is by getting way beyond New Zealand and watching what happens”
Mark Butcher on Joe Root:”There was a change throughout the innings. Initially he was over-balancing, his mind got outside the line of off stump and he did not have a firm base get ahead from and to push off from. As he got at the footwork began to be greater although he was fighting with himself and his balance was wonderful. He looked like the Root who had been churning out conducts, dare I say it, before he became captain.”
James Franklin on Rory Burns:”He remained patient, which can be a part of the game. He’s well prepared to bat moment and wait for bowlers to come to him. New Zealand tested him they moved round the wicket a lot and attempted to get him caught at midwicket came back obsessive the wicket and tried to hang the ball out off. But he was up to this task.”
Watch day four of the second Test between New Zealand and England out of 9pm on Sunday on Sky Sports Cricket (station 404).