Root and Stokes revive England in first Test

Joe Root and Ben Stokes both fell agonisingly short of a hundred after rescuing England from a dire position on the opening day of the first Test against New Zealand at Lord’s on Thursday.

At stumps, England — who had been 30 for four when Stokes came in — were 354 for seven after losing the toss.

Root (98) and Stokes (92) put on 161 for the fifth wicket.

Jos Buttler (67) and Moeen Ali (49 not out) then added 103 before the wicket-keeper was lbw to Trent Boult off the last ball of the day.

“We got into a bit of a hole in the first 45 minutes but to finish on 354 for seven, we would have taken that,” Stokes told BBC Radio’s Test Match Special.

“Rooty over the last 18-20 months has been in incredible form, and when you are in the middle with his record it fills you with confidence,” said Stokes.

As early wickets fell, it looked as if debutant New Zealand fast bowler Matt Henry, who led the Black Caps’ attack with three for 93, would be the star of the day.

“I suppose it was a great start to Test match cricket,” said Henry, who took two wickets for four runs in seven balls to dismiss England captain Alastair Cook and Ian Bell.

“Joe Root and Ben Stokes fought back well but we hung in there, as that last wicket showed.

“It is amazing to make a debut for New Zealand and to make it at Lord’s is an incredible feeling,” the 23-year-old Canterbury paceman added. “I am very fortunate.”

England came into this match dealing with the fall-out from the sacking of coach Peter Moores and the ongoing furore surrounding Kevin Pietersen’s continuing exile from the side.

They were also up against a reinvigorated New Zealand side fresh from a run to the World Cup final that saw England humiliated along the way.

Yet more embarrassment beckoned before two of England’s ‘young guns’, the 24-year-old Root and the 23-year-old Stokes who turned the tide in the first of this two-match series.

Debutant England opener Adam Lyth, selected after Jonathan Trott retired following a run of low scores during the drawn series in the West Indies, was caught behind off Tim Southee for seven.

The 100th Test between England and New Zealand then saw the hosts lose three wickets for five runs in 15 balls.

– Henry strikes –

Boult had Gary Ballance caught at third slip for one before Cook (16) fell when, beaten for pace by Henry, he top-edged an attempted hook through to wicket-keeper BJ Watling.

Henry then produced a cracking delivery to dismiss Bell for one, a the ball pitching on off stump and holding its line.

At lunch, England were 113 for four with Root 49 not out and left-hander Stokes unbeaten on 36.

Afterwards Stokes — the New Zealand-born son of former Kiwi rugby league international Ged Stokes but raised in England — upped the tempo.

He went from 64 to 89 in just 11 balls, including a pulled six off Henry.

However, Stokes — eyeing what would have been just a second Test hundred following his 120 against Australia in Perth in 2013, was bowled deliberately leaving a delivery from off-spinner Mark Craig.

Stokes trudged off, having faced just 94 balls, including 15 fours and a six.

Root too missed out on a ton when, two runs shy of what would have been his third Test hundred in successive years at Lord’s, he under-edged a cut off Henry and was caught behind by Tom Latham, deputising for the injured Watling.

The Yorkshireman batted for more than three-and-a-half hours, facing 161 balls including 11 fours.


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