HAMILTON        -       Joe Root, the England captain, brought up his 17th Test century and rallied with Rory Burns as the visitors counter-attacked on day three of the second Test in Hamilton.

Root marked a return to form with a resilient century – his first since February this year when he scored 122 against West Indies in the Caribbean. In his next 14 innings, the right-hander had failed to get past the three-figure mark, despite scoring four fifties. He was batting on 114* when rain cut the final session short, with England at 269/5, still trailing by 106 runs.

England had resumed the day at a tricky position of 39/2, but Root found a willing accomplice in Rory Burns, who rode his luck, to post his second Test hundred. The duo added 177 runs together for the third wicket to help England cross the 200-run mark before Burns was run out for 101.

Despite having suffered a few nervy moments on the previous evening, with Burns even surviving two dropped catches, the batsmen looked at ease at the start of the third day. Both batsmen started with a four each off Matt Henry’s first over of the day and that set the tone. Soon after England crossed the 100-run mark, Burns went past his fifty but there was still work to be done. New Zealand thought they had a wicket when Root was ruled out caught behind on 47 off Darly Mitchell. However, the England captain survived on review as the ball had missed his bat.

England went on to also dominate the second session of day’s play as Root and Burns picked up from where they had left off. Burns got another reprieve as he survived a run-out opportunity on 87 and the pair crossed 150 runs for the third wicket. By this point, both batsmen were promptly putting away the bad deliveries from the tiring New Zealand attack.

Root remained relatively cautious in his knock, but Burns hit some fearless shots and brought up a fine century off 208 balls. But he was run out only a few balls later at the wicketkeeper’s end while attempting a risky second run, thus providing the hosts with an opening. Resuming the final session at 218/3, England looked well on top with Root batting defiantly on 84. He was supported by Ben Stokes, who looked his usual confident self. But Tim Southee got one to shape away from the flamboyant left-handed all-rounder to have him caught behind for 26.

Debutant Zak Crawley failed to make the most of the opportunity, scoring only one off six balls before giving a regulation catch to the keeper just after Root had completed his century with back-to-back fours off Neil Wagner. Ollie Pope (4*) saw off a tricky period of bowling before it began raining and stumps were called. He and Root will look to help England take the lead on the fourth day as the visitors search for a series-levelling victory.