Cricket - Root shines for England before New Zealand fightback

Day three, first Test, Lord's - England 180-6 (Root 71, Trott 56) and 232 all out (Southee 4-58), lead New Zealand 207 all out (Taylor 66, Williamson 60 / Anderson 5-47) by 205 runs.

Cricket - Root shines for England before New Zealand fightback

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England's Joe Root reaches his half-century against New Zealand at Lord's (AFP)

Joe Root appeared to give England the ascendancy with a composed 71 before New Zealand hit back with a flurry of late wickets on day three of the first Test at Lord’s.

Root shone with his well-crafted innings - batting at number four with an ill Ian Bell dropped down the order – as the Yorkshireman put on a valuable 123-run partnership with Jonathan Trott, who added a patient 56.

But four wickets for the cost of just 12 runs in 39 balls in the final session saw the tourists roar back to leave England reeling at the close, albeit with a lead of 205 runs with four wickets remaining in the second innings.

Earlier in the day, James Anderson – who took his 300th Test wicket on day two – finished up with his 13th five-wicket haul in Tests and fourth at Lord’s, while Steven Finn helped clean up the tail with four for 63 as New Zealand were left with a 25-run deficit after the first innings.

Resuming on 153 for four overnight, Stuart Broad – who was largely off colour with figures of one for 64 – took the key wicket of Brendon McCullum early in the morning session as the Black Caps skipper edged behind and departed for just two.

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The excellent Kane Williamson, who compiled a fine 60, followed suit as Matt Prior claimed another catch off the bowling of Anderson, before the ultra-aggressive Tim Southee blasted three boundaries and promptly holed out in a breathless cameo.

England continued to apply incessant pressure, and the unwavering Anderson claimed his third five-wicket haul against the Kiwis as he clean bowled a stunned Bruce Martin in emphatic fashion.

BJ Watling, who later went off injured in the field and was joined on the treatment table by Martin, mustered a gritty 17 to frustrate the hosts until Finn had him caught behind before the Middlesex paceman ended the innings abruptly as he had Trent Boult caught for a duck.

The hosts, having secured a slender first-innings advantage, proceeded to move to 36 without loss as Boult and Southee initially struggled to find their radars before a dismayed Alastair Cook (21) gifted his wicket to the former with a loose attempted drive outside his off stump.

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A restless Nick Compton was bowled for 15 by left-arm seamer Neil Wagner, who came on first change for the tourists, and it was subsequently left to Trott and Root to rebuild with the balance of the match suddenly back in the favour of the visitors.

The pair cantered along serenely, with the exception of two run-out opportunities which the tourists failed to capitalise on, and both reached their half-centuries in a partnership of 123 that appeared to put England firmly in the ascendancy.

But there was to be a swift and destructive resurgence from New Zealand as Southee – who now has seven wickets to his name in the match – bowled Root in the final session. The Yorkshireman was soon joined in the pavilion by his county team-mate Jonny Bairstow, who was dismissed in the same fashion for five, and the Kiwis sensed that the momentum of the match had swung once again.

Prior, who was recently named England’s cricketer of the year, endured another torrid stint in the middle as he departed for a pair after registering a second duck in the match to give the ebullient Southee his third wicket of the innings.

It was then the turn of a bewildered Trott to depart as he saw his middle stump removed by a stunning delivery from part-time off spinner Williamson which turned prodigiously out of the rough.

With England reeling from four quick wickets in the final session it was left to Bell, suffering from the flu, and nightwatchman Finn to steer their side safely to stumps with a 205-run lead heading into day four and the match still very finely poised.

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