|Scorecard:||England v New Zealand|
|Player:||JM Bairstow, JE Root|
|Event:||New Zealand in England 2013|
Andy Jalil reports from Leeds
Leeds A wonderful century by Joe Root and the third Test half century by Jonny Bairstow revived the England innings to reach 337 for seven at stumps. Quite in contrast to the previous day, when incessant rain prevented a ball from being bowled, bright sunshine and a pale blue sky greeted the second day of the second Investec Test which saw England make a poor start after deciding to make first use of a fine pitch.
It will remain a most memorable Test for 22-year-old Root who became the first Yorkshireman to score a maiden Test hundred on his home ground and along with Bairstow put on 124for the fifth wicket to bring about an England recovery. Root paced his innings perfectly over four hours, coming to the crease when his side had faltered and in partnership with his fellow Yorkshireman, he gradually took the fight back to New Zealand.
Nick Compton will be under pressure to retain his place in the team after scores of 16 and 15 in the first Test followed by just a single yesterday before he edged to third slip a ball that kept moving away as he attempted a drive towards cover. Another failure from him in the second innings may well see his opening spot given to the promising Root who has been opening so successfully for his county. With Kevin Pietersen expected to return from knee injury in time for the Ashes series in July, Compton is in a vulnerable position and cannot afford another failure with the clamour for Root to be put up the order gathering pace.
With a half century stand, Alistair Cook and Jonathan Trott seemed to have put Englands early loss behind them as they settled in, playing fluent strokes. Trott opened his account with a four at backward point and promptly despatched the next ball from Tim Southee to the square leg boundary. The bowler suffered again an over later when Trotts third scoring shot brought a four at cover.
Cook was in no hurry, stuck on 9 for 29 balls in attempting to hold the innings together and the fifty of their partnership came with a four at third man from Trott. They had taken the score to 67 for one but two overs before lunch just when it seemed England had made a good recovery, New Zealand struck in successive overs.
Neil Wagner, who had replaced Trent Boult, had Trott edge behind. Wagner had been achieving good ball movement and had got one to swing away from Trott after the previous ball had come into the batsman. It was a loose shot from Trott after his first four boundaries had come from well executed strokes.
Pace bowler Doug Bracewell who has come into this Test replacing the left-arm spinner Bruce Martin, struck with the first ball of the following over and England had lost two wickets on 67. Cook was on 34 when he played forward to an out-swinger and edged to third slip for Dean Brownlee to take his second catch.
The second session was the period for England to consolidate the innings and both Bell and Root went about the task in diligent fashion. Content with singles and twos they kept the scoreboard moving and with no early breakthrough during that session, Brendon McCullum, the New Zealand captain brought on the spinner Kane Williamson.
But neither batsman was particularly uncomfortable to the combined pace and spin attack although the controlled bowling and tight fielding made the batsmen fight hard for the runs. Bell clipped Bracewell off his legs to mid-wicket for four to reach 30 and that turned out to be his last scoring shot. The introduction of spin paid off with Bell going on the back foot to Williamson and in trying to push to leg he got an edge. Root was on 44 at that point and a thick edge off Bracewell took him to 48.
Two balls later he ran two to mid-wicket to bring up his third Test half century patiently in two hours from 90 balls and that was his second 50 in consecutive innings after scoring 40 and 71 in the previous Test. He got a standing ovation from his local crowd and was joined by Bairstow who got off the mark with a boundary beautifully driven to cover off Bracewell in the last over before tea.
Both batsmen settled well into their stand. Root went from 66 to 78 with three boundaries off consecutive balls from Williamson, going down the wicket to whip a full toss, then a sweep followed by a reverse sweep. Meanwhile Bairstow had been picking up runs rapidly, playing with fluency. He reached 50 with a lovely drive to mid-on and that was also the 100 of the partnership.
New Zealands review for a catch behind against Root, on 93, was unsuccessful. He then took a single and ran two off Bracewell before steering him to third man for his ninth boundary to reach the three figures from 156 balls. New Zealand took the second new balls after 80 overs and the first delivery with it brought Roots dismissal. On 104, he chased a ball from Boult well outside the off stump and was held behind.
Boult went on to claim two more wickets in his next two overs. Bairstow fell much in the same manner as Root, getting a touch to a ball outside off stump on 64 from 99 balls and Stuart Broad provided McCullum with his fifth catch. Boult had 3for three in a space of 13 balls with England reduced to 286 for seven. Thereafter Matt Prior and Graeme Swann put on an unbroken stand of 51.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2013 Andy Jalil)