Root and Pope stand firm as England take narrow lead over New Zealand

Joe Root and Ollie Pope shared an unbroken 117-run stand to carry England into a slender first-innings lead at lunch on day four of the second Test against New Zealand at Hamilton.

Under heavy cloud cover and with uneven bounce a factor on Monday morning, Root and Pope were initially watchful although the Black Caps seemed content to keep the run-rate in check.

Root is unbeaten on 178 in an innings that is now his second longest in Tests in terms of balls faced while Ollie Pope was on 46 not out as England went to the interval on 379 for five – and an advantage of four.

Having added 110 runs to their overnight total in another attritional session which has come to define this series, England will now look to establish a significant lead in the afternoon to assert some pressure on the Kiwis.

Neither Root nor Pope took any risks on a surface where the odd ball kept low, with Root beaten by a Tim Southee scuttler that just whistled past off-stump although the England captain dispatched the seamer for four with a shorter delivery that did not get up as expected.

Pope drove loosely off Southee as the ball flew through the gate but missed the stumps while an inside edge off Daryl Mitchell brought the 21-year-old his first four.

While the New Zealand attack were willing, the field was spread out in an effort to stymie the boundaries but Root and Pope were able to intersperse the odd four with some hard running in-between the wickets.

Root reached his 150 – he resumed on 114 – for the seventh occasion in his Test career and only the second time overseas while Pope soon went past his previous Test best of 29 in a fledgling career.

England’s Ollie Pope and Joe Root
England’s Ollie Pope and Joe Root

Root was more proactive against Mitch Santner but a top-edge landed between two fielders in the deep before the next ball was swept for four to take the union between the England captain and Pope into three figures.

Pope took England into the lead with a fine cut off Daryl Mitchell in the penultimate over before the break.