Root and Pope help England close on series sweep

By Sports Desk June 26, 2022

England require 113 runs with eight wickets in hand on the final day of the Headingley Test against New Zealand as they bid to complete a series sweep.

Another entertaining match between the sides continued on Sunday, as the tourists – resuming on 168-5 in their second innings – were bowled out for 326, courtesy of Jack Leach's first 10-wicket Test haul.

That set England a target of 296 – a significant score but not even the largest Ben Stokes' newly confident side have chased down in this series.

And they will resume in a commanding position on day five, with Ollie Pope (81 not out) and Joe Root (55 no) firmly set and within sight of victory on 183-2.

The latest century stand between Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell – their fourth of the series – had earlier appeared to swing momentum back in New Zealand's favour following the late flurry of wickets on Saturday.

But that three-hour, 252-ball stand was ended with the Black Caps on 274-5. Four balls after Blundell (88 no) was saved by DRS, Matthew Potts (3-66) rapped Mitchell on the knee roll to see him depart lbw for 56.

Leach (5-66) took over from there, soon accounting for Michael Bracewell and then both Tim Southee and Neil Wagner in the same over.

When his second five-for of the match was completed bowling to Trent Boult, England – who replaced Ben Foakes with COVID substitute Sam Billings – had a realistic shot at victory.

Those hopes were dented when Zak Crawley's cover drive was cut off by Kane Williamson, who brilliantly picked out Boult to remove the stumps with Alex Lees well short.

Crawley (25) was perhaps at fault for that run-out and was caught by Williamson soon after, but Pope and Root steadied the ship, each passing 50 with an array of superb shots late in the day.

Root leading latest chase

If England complete the job on Monday, they will become the first team in Test history to successfully chase a target of at least 250 three times in a single series.

The hosts have made a habit of digging deep and entertaining in equal measure in this series, best epitomised by Root's knock, in which he survived hopeful-at-best Williamson reviews from consecutive balls and then got to work – the highlight a remarkable reverse-scoop for six.

Brilliant Blundell

Blundell became the highest-scoring visiting wicketkeeper in a Test series in England, this time doing the heavy lifting opposite regular partner Mitchell.

The pair have scored over half of the tourists' runs across the three matches.

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