Tuesday, 5 July, 2022

Pope, Root centuries fuel England fightback against New Zealand

Ollie Pope hit his highest Test score of 142 not out and Joe Root swaggered to an unbeaten 109 as England raced to 331-2 against New Zealand at tea on the third day of the second Test at Trent Bridge.

Replying to New Zealand's mammoth first innings score of 553, Pope and Root took full advantage of a docile pitch to ease the pressure on England.

Thanks to the pair's commanding displays, England will expect to get close to New Zealand's total in a match that could be destined for a high-scoring draw.

Pope's second Test century, and his first on English soil, came after he was handed a surprise promotion to number three by England captain Ben Stokes at the start of the series.

It was Pope's first Test ton since scoring 135 not out in South Africa in January 2020.

The 24-year-old's England place has been in serious doubt at times in the last few years due to shoulder injuries and a lack of form.

But, batting in a position he had never previously featured in for England or Surrey prior to the first Test, Pope has repaid the faith of Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum.

Freed of the oppressive shackles of the England captaincy after handing the role to Stokes earlier this year, Root was in vibrant mood himself as he unfurled his full array of strokes in his 27th Test century.

Needing only 116 balls to reach his fastest Test ton, Root has picked up where he left off at Lord's with a second successive 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.

Earlier, Alex Lees compiled his highest Test score of 67 before becoming the only England batsman to perish in Sunday's first two sessions.

Daryl Mitchell's Test-best 190 and Tom Blundell's 106 on Saturday had put New Zealand in pole position.

But England were able to replicate New Zealand's success in conditions perfectly suited to batting.

Lees had resumed on 34, while Pope had made 51 not out overnight, with both having survived a dropped catch by Mitchell on Saturday.