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Following a lean run of scores, Joe Root expressed that he felt he owed England a hundred.

By Real11 - Feb 25 2023 265 Views
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After a lean run of scores, Joe Root believes that he owed England a hundred, and he has now fulfilled that debt.

On the second day of the second Test against New Zealand, England's Joe Root remained unbeaten on 153 and stated that he felt he "owed" his team his 29th Test century. This innings marked the 14th time Root has surpassed a score of 150 in Tests and has boosted his average back above 50. His exceptional batting performance allowed England to declare at 435 for 8 and have two opportunities to take down the New Zealand batting order before and after lunch. The hosts struggled and were reduced to 138 for 7 before rain interrupted the final two hours of play for the second day in a row.

While Root has scored four centuries under the leadership of Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum, he has admitted to having difficulties finding the balance between contributing to the team and fitting into their new attacking approach. However, on this occasion, he was able to accelerate his run rate and score his last 103 runs in just 102 balls, showcasing his classic style of play. Root credited his Yorkshire teammate Harry Brook, who added only two runs to his overnight score before being caught and bowled for 186 by Matt Henry, for bringing out the best in him. Together, Root and Brook added 302 runs for the fourth wicket after coming together at 21 for 3.

"I felt like I owed that to the group," Root said. "It's been a while since I made a solid contribution. To be part of such a big partnership was really pleasing and I think the best thing was I had the best seat in the house to watch Harry go about his business. It's a joy to watch him play at the minute. He certainly made my life a lot easier out there, the way he manages to wrestle momentum in our favour and constantly put bowlers under pressure.

"When he comes and plays as he does - if you slightly over-pitch he hits you over your head, if you miss short he goes midwicket, he'll back away and hit you through the off side - it's difficult to know where to bowl with him. When you get down the other end it just feels like there's less pressure on you, and more opportunity to get him back on strike and down the business end.

"I felt we had a really good understanding, we negated a few modes of dismissal by getting down the crease. We fed off each quite nicely and made it difficult for them to bowl one length for us."

Root acknowledged that Stokes played a crucial role in the timing of the declaration, which enabled James Anderson to take the wickets of Devon Conway and Kane Williamson before lunch. This strategy proved effective as the rest of the top five were dismissed with only 77 runs on the board. If the weather had not intervened, there was a high probability of all 10 wickets being taken before the scheduled close of play.

 "I think it was a brilliant call from Ben," Root said. "It felt like that 40 minutes before the break, the sun was out and with 40 minutes of sun, a heavy roller and 40 minutes of sun at lunch, it might have changed the wicket.

"It didn't work out like that, it gave a better opportunity to make the most of the conditions. The way we're playing at the minute with the confidence we've got, seeing the ball move around with the No. 1 Test bowler, the two leading wicket-takers we've ever had, it just seemed a very brave and attacking option. Full credit to Ben, as you'd expect, for taking it on.

"He's just walked so naturally into the role, he's managing the game really well and everyone is responding to it. I just think it was a brilliant call from him, it would have been very easy for us to keep going and we might not be sitting here with them seven-down tonight. Credit to him, he's doing a great job."

There is a possibility of a follow-on in the ongoing match due to the expected rain interruptions and England's bowlers having a relatively light workload so far. The outcome of the match will determine whether this century is considered one of Root's best since the beginning of last summer.

"Potentially," he answered when asked if this one was top of the four, the others having come in the opening matches of last summer, including two successful run-chases at Lord's and Edgbaston. "We'll see how the game turns out. You always judge how well you've played off the back of a result and I'm certainly sat here in this position, at the end of day two, having them seven-down with a huge lead is very satisfying right now. Hopefully we can follow through on it and continue all the good cricket we've played up to now."

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