• England v NZ, 1st Investec Test, Lord's, 3rd day

Southee leads late rally after Root sparkles

The Report by Andrew McGlashan at Lord's
May 18, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
England 180 for 6 (Root 71, Trott 56, Southee 3-34) and 232 lead New Zealand 207 (Taylor 66, Williamson 60, Anderson 5-45, Finn 4-63) by 205 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Joe Root's innings guided England into a strong position but their fortunes swung late in the day © Getty Images
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This match refuses to reveal a favourite. Just as England appeared to have wrestled control away through a stand of 123 between Joe Root and Jonathan Trott, New Zealand surged back late in the day by taking 4 for 12, led by Tim Southee, to leave the contest tantalisingly balanced with the home side leading by 205 in conditions offering assistance to all bowlers.

Despite how the day ended, England's advantage is not inconsiderable on this surface. New Zealand will almost certainly have to score more than their first innings 207 to secure victory. Lord's pitches have, over recent years, got better for batting (or at least harder for wicket-taking) deeper into the match but this surface does not appear set to follow that trend and the ball continues to swing.

Root, having played outstandingly for his 71, was the first to fall during a collapse that began in the final hour, when he inside-edged Southee into the stumps playing a shot that was not as tight as the majority he had so correctly produced. Then Southee beat Jonny Bairstow with a full delivery that clipped the pads and Matt Prior's difficult game continued when he completed a pair by pulling softly to square leg. It was the first pair at Lord's by an England player picked, in a significant part, for their batting since Mark Ramprakash against West Indies in 1995.

A compelling passage of play continued when Kane Williamson, finding considerable turn that will give Graeme Swann every chance of being a match-winner, ripped one through the gate to bowl Trott (who had earlier been dropped at slip off the same bowler on 49) and suddenly the ill Ian Bell, who had spent the majority of New Zealand's innings off the field and the morning of the third day at the team hotel, had to emerge at No. 8 behind nightwatchman Steven Finn.

Root's innings was exceptional. England were wobbling on 36 for 2 - a lead of 61 - when he arrived, after Alastair Cook's problems with Trent Boult continued by edging a drive to third slip (his fourth dismissal against him in the four Tests this year) and Nick Compton was beaten by an inswinger from Neil Wagner in the next over.

Until Root dragged on the only moments of unease came with running between the wickets. A better throw from Brendon McCullum at cover would have found him short on 40; in the process of collecting the ball and trying to break the stumps, BJ Watling damaged his knee and needed to leave the field, which forced McCullum to take the gloves (although not the conventional keeping pads, instead using shinguards under his trousers).

Twice on 54 Root came close to being run out again. Martin Guptill, on as sub and New Zealand's best fielder, missed the stumps then Root had to dive for his ground after another poor call. Each time, however, he managed to refocus. Perhaps the occasionally frantic running was a result of England's increased urgency. They certainly appeared more intent on not letting the bowlers settle and Root was central to this with numerous tip-and-runs.

He was strong square of the wicket, both cutting and driving elegantly off the back foot with a hint of his mentor Michael Vaughan, as he brought up his second Test fifty off 78 balls - rapid in the context of this game, if not quite Ross Taylor pace. The swiftness of footwork stood out, too, especially when he latched on to short deliveries from Bruce Martin, who did not have the same stifling effect of the first innings. Trott, meanwhile, played as he so often does and provided a reassuring presence at the other end although Root does not strike you as someone who needs calming in the middle.

The two teams continue to prove closer than the rankings would suggest. New Zealand began the day in the slightly stronger position, but they were quickly knocked back and their last six wickets fell for 52 as James Anderson received the support that had been lacking the previous day, with him and Finn sharing nine wickets.

England made the ideal start by removing McCullum in the first full over. He could have taken the game by scruff of the neck in a session but got a thin outside edge as he drove at Stuart Broad who, after being too short yesterday, immediately gained reward by pitching the ball up. McCullum thought he may have clipped his pad, not the ball, and used the DRS but there was a clear mark on Hot Spot.

With McCullum gone, England knew the risk of New Zealand racing away had diminished. Williamson, who took a painful blow in the box against the much-improved Broad and needed a few minutes to compose himself, moved to an excellent fifty from 158 balls - his back-foot play through off side continuing to stand out - before falling in the same manner to Root on Friday when he glanced down the leg side against Anderson who went on to complete his fourth five-wicket haul at Lord's when he beat Martin with a beauty to take off stump.

Finn, although remaining inconsistent, played his part in dispatching the lower order. He benefited from a disappointing lack of self-control from Southee who had clubbed three boundaries in three balls and could not resist hacking at a short delivery that was simply taken at cover. It was a waste. Finn also claimed the last two to end with somewhat flattering figures, although his strike-rate of 47.1 should not be overlooked. However, like England, there is improvement needed.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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