• England Lions v NZ, Tour Match, Grace Road, 4th day

New Zealand finally uproot Joe

Andrew McGlashan at Grace Road
May 12, 2013
England Lions 433 for 7 (Root 179, Carberry 77, Bairstow 68) drew with New Zealanders 285 (Rutherford 126, Roland-Jones 4-54)
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Joe Root's prolific scoring has given him an outside chance of reaching 1000 runs before June © Getty Images
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Joe Root was finally dismissed on the fourth morning of another rain-soaked day, but not before taking his season tally to 646 runs and raise the slim prospect of an England batsman challenging for 1000 first-class runs before the end of May for the second season running.

Last summer Nick Compton was denied by rain - then reached the landmark a day late on June 1 - and although it remains an outside chance for Root (more than 300 runs in a two-Test series would be a huge achievement, especially batting in the middle order) he has a potential four innings remaining in the month, with Tests at Lord's and then his homeground at Headingley.

This was his third score over 150 this season - and his second-lowest score of the summer - following the 182 and 236 he made in the Championship for Yorkshire, and he could not be heading into the Test series in better form. He took his boundary count to 25 on the final morning - the cover drives standing out - before being slightly late on a delivery from Doug Bracewell that took out off stump.

New Zealand's two fit seamers - Bracewell and Trent Boult - bowled high-class spells in the absence of Tim Southee who is nursing a foot injury that makes him doubtful for Lord's. Boult swung the ball into the right-handers, then made others hold their line to beat the edge, and was rewarded with Jonny Bairstow's wicket.

Bairstow had breezed to 68, although his half-century came with an inside edge past the stumps, as his partnership with Root was extended to 135 in 26 overs. The Yorkshire pair could be a part of England's future for many years to come.

Bracewell, working up good pace from the Bennett End and finding some swing, claimed his second wicket of the day when he took out Chris Woakes' off stump with one that nipped away. Following his haul against Derbyshire, Bracewell has made a strong case to force his way back into the Test side although Southee's injury could yet make it a simple decision.

Root's dominance of this match took the spotlight away from other Lions batsmen trying to impress the selectors. Ravi Bopara played some attractive shots - especially a straight drive off Bracewell - as he made the most of the decision to bat on throughout the morning rather than declare.

The senior England team will be pleased that New Zealand were denied another bat, particularly as Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor have only had one innings on the trip. The rain arrived during lunch and didn't relent, leaving them to rely on nets ahead of the Test.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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