England v New Zealand: Ollie Pope and Joe Root put hosts on course for 3-0 series win

By Matthew HenryBBC Sport at Headingley
Third LV Insurance Test, Headingley (day four of five)
New Zealand 329 (Mitchell 109, Leach 5-100) & 326 (Blundell 88*, Latham 76; Leach 5-66)
England 360 (Bairstow 162, Overton 97) & 183-2 (Pope 81*, Root 55*)
England need further 113 runs to win
Scorecard

England need 113 runs with eight wickets in hand to complete another superb final-day victory against New Zealand in the third Test at Headingley.

Set 296 to win, England hurried along once again to reach 183-2 on day four.

Ollie Pope made 81 not out and Joe Root an unbeaten 55, putting on 132 after Alex Lees was run out for nine and Zak Crawley caught for a frantic 25.

After chasing 277 in the first Test and breathlessly pursuing 299 to win the second, victory in Leeds will give England a 3-0 series clean sweep over the World Test champions.

They would have hoped to earn themselves a smaller target when New Zealand resumed on 168-5 - 137 ahead - but were thwarted by Tom Blundell's 88 not out.

Blundell, who overturned an lbw decision on 52 and was dropped on 67, combined with Daryl Mitchell yet again for their fourth century stand of the series.

Mitchell fell lbw for 56 to the impressive Matthew Potts 50 minutes into the afternoon session before Jack Leach took the last four wickets to claim 5-66 and his first 10-wicket match haul in Tests.

If England pull off the win they will become the first team to chase 250 three times in a row.

A full house is expected on Monday after Yorkshire followed the lead of Nottinghamshire, the hosts of the second Test, in allowing spectators in for free to watch this energised England side attempt to do so.

Transformed England eye clean sweep

Before this series, when England had won only one of their past 17 Tests, a chase of almost 300 would have looked way beyond them.

But they have been transformed under new coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes to the point that anything now looks possible.

At Trent Bridge last week they had 72 overs to chase 299 and did so in 50.

With four sessions to reach their target on this occasion, they batted in slightly more measured fashion but still eased along at more than four an over, Joe Root reverse sweeping his first ball and later playing an outrageous scoop for six off pace bowler Neil Wagner.

New Zealand's only spinner, part-timer Michael Bracewell, was ineffective and seamers Trent Boult and Tim Southee were neutered by a lack of movement and a flat pitch.

Showers are forecast on Monday morning, but there should still be time for either side to force a win.

Root and Pope cruise after Crawley fails again

In truth, England would not have wanted the close to have come because Pope and Root were cruising in late-evening sunshine against bedraggled opponents hurt by the decision to leave out frontline spinner Ajaz Patel.

Both batters nicked between wicketkeeper and first slip off Bracewell's off-spin but otherwise were comfortable.

Pope batted at a spritely pace, as he did in his 145 in the second Test, and drove elegantly through the covers.

He also brought composure to proceedings after a frantic start during which Lees was run out in the fifth over after a mix-up with Crawley, who himself played an innings that summed up his international career.

Crawley was dropped on nought playing a wild drive, cracked four elegant fours in one Boult over and then carelessly tried to hit Bracewell out of the rough to be caught at extra cover. He ended the series without a fifty.

Shortly after, New Zealand burned two reviews in consecutive balls to try to dismiss Root lbw, but on both occasions the ball hit him outside the line of off stump.

Leach profits after Blundell blunts England again

If the match seems to be following the pattern of the previous two Tests, the first session was also very familiar.

England were resolutely blunted by Mitchell and Blundell, who became only the fifth pair to share four century stands in a series. Blundell's haul of 383 runs is the best by a visiting wicketkeeper in England.

He was left stranded when, after Mitchell perished playing across the line, the lower order tried to attack.

Leach capitalised as Bracewell swiped to deep mid-wicket, Tim Southee was bowled and Neil Wagner was caught between the legs of wicketkeeper Sam Billings, who was rushed into the game as a Covid-19 replacement for Ben Foakes.

Leach ended with match figures of 10-166 to become the first England spinner to take 10 in a Test since Moeen Ali five years ago.

Along with Pope and Jonny Bairstow, he looks to be one of the players to have benefitted most from the appointment of Stokes and McCullum.

'New Zealand looked on the ropes' - what they said

England's Jack Leach told BBC Sport: "We have had a really strong day and are pleased how we batted with Joe Root and Ollie Pope.

"We stuck at it with the bowling this morning - we got our rewards. Matthew Potts was unbelievable and it was great to be part of."

Former England captain Michael Vaughan: "The New Zealand attack looked on the ropes.

"It's the best three Test matches England have played in many years, and you can see the players have bought into this brand of cricket."

BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew: "If England are able to start on time they might get them in a session tomorrow morning.

"If someone would have told me at the end of March in Grenada when England had lost to West Indies that New Zealand would be whitewashed here, I don't think anyone would have believed them."

Around the BBC iPlayer bannerAround the BBC iPlayer footer

Comments

Join the conversation

These comments are now closed.

840 comments

Top Stories

Elsewhere on the BBC

Cricket on the BBC