Cricket - Root
Joe Root makes room for a square cut during his unbeaten innings of 77 against New Zealand on Saturday. Image Credit: Reuters

London: Joe Root showed his class with unbeaten 77 to leave England’s improbable chase of a victory target of 277 tantalisingly poised against New Zealand in the first of their three Test matches at the Lord’s on Saturday.

Left reeling at 99 for four at tea after Kyle Jamieson rattled them with three wickets on third day, the former captain joined forces with their new leader Ben Stokes for a priceless 90-run stand for the fifth wicket to bring them back strongly into the match. Stokes eventually fell for a priceless 54 off 110 balls, studded with five fours and three sixes, to give Jamieson his fourth wicket under the lengthening shadows.

Ben Foakes (batting nine) then gave Root invaluable support as they ended the day at 216 for five with 61 runs still to get with five wickets in hand on the fourth day.

England, with just one win from their previous 17 Tests, were left looking to Stokes (15 not out) and Root (23 not out) at tea to pull off an improbable win.

Stokes, on his 31st birthday, received a lifeline when on one he played on after recklessly charging at Colin de Grandhomme, only to be reprieved when replays revealed his opposing all-rounder had bowled a fractional no-ball.

Earlier, England great Stuart Broad sparked a sensational New Zealand collapse after Daryl Mitchell made a hundred as the World Test champions, who had been 251 for four, were dismissed for 285 in their second innings.

Mitchell completes century

But by then Mitchelll, who made 108 and Tom Blundell (96) had shared a stand of 195 - more than either New Zealand (132) or England (141) managed in their first innings.

There have been only three successful fourth-innings run chases of over 200 in Lord’s Test history, with England’s best their 282 for three against New Zealand in 2004.

Alex Lees made a fluent start to Saturday’s pursuit, however, hitting four boundaries in his 20, only for the left-hander to be bowled leaving a Jamieson delivery. England’s 31 for one at lunch became 32 for two soon afterwards when Jamieson had Zak Crawley caught in the slips for nine.

Ollie Pope then fell cheaply for the second time this match, bowled by a brilliant Trent Boult delivery from around the wicket that came back up the slope.

Boult had got straight back in the groove after only arriving in England on Monday after playing in last weekend’s Indian Premier League final.

But Jonny Bairstow appeared to be still stuck in IPL mode as he too fell for his second low score this Test, bowled trying to drive Jamieson.

New Zealand had resumed on 236 for four, a lead of 227. Mitchell was 97 not out overnight and Blundell unbeaten on 90 after they had come together Friday with the Black Caps in trouble at 56 for four.

The 31-year-old Mitchell wasted no time in reaching his second Test century and first abroad, off-driving Broad for three from his first ball Saturday to bring up a 189-ball hundred including 11 fours.

After waiting 366 deliveries to take the fifth wicket, England then astonishingly collected three in three balls.