England captain Ben Stokes and predecessor Joe Root led a thrilling rally on Saturday to set up a dramatic finish to the first Test against New Zealand at Lord’s. England were 216 for five at stumps on the third day, needing just 61 more runs to reach a victory target of 277 but with no more recognised batsmen left to come in. In what is Stokes’ first match as skipper since succeeding Root, England collapsed in familiar fashion to be 69 for four, with towering paceman Kyle Jamieson taking four for 49 in 20 overs.
Stokes marked his 31st birthday with a dashing 54 — England’s first fifty of this match — while star batsman Root, less flamboyant in style, was 77 not out at stumps after the close friends had put on 90 for the fifth wicket.
Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes then kept Root company with an unbeaten nine off 48 balls.
England, bottom of the World Test Championship table after winning just one of their previous 17 matches, now have a chance of going 1-0 up in this three-match series.
Earlier, England great Stuart Broad sparked a sensational New Zealand collapse after Daryl Mitchell made a hundred as the World Test champions, who had been 251 for four, were dismissed for 285 in their second innings.
But by then Mitchell, who made 108, and Tom Blundell (96) had shared a stand of 195 — more than either New Zealand (132) or England (141) managed in their first innings.
And when Jamieson cleaned up Jonny Bairstow, going for a booming drive, England were reeling at 69 for four on a good pitch and in sunny conditions seemingly ideal for batting.
Stokes might have been out for one when playing on to Colin de Grandhomme after recklessly charging at the all-rounder, only to be reprieved by a fractional no-ball call.
The luckless de Grandhomme later left the field with what looked like a heel injury after pulling up in his delivery stride.
New Zealand were now a bowler light and left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel, who had taken all 10 India wickets in his last Test in Mumbai in December, saw his second ball Saturday slog-swept by Stokes for six.
It was a shot the left-handed batsman repeated during a 106-ball fifty.
But trying to uppercut a rising short ball from Jamieson that cramped him for room, Stokes could only feather a catch to wicketkeeper Blundell.
The serene and unobtrusive Root then completed a 107-ball fifty, including four boundaries.
New Zealand had resumed on 236 for four, a lead of 227.
Mitchell was 97 not out overnight and Blundell unbeaten on 90 after they had come together Friday with the Black Caps in trouble at 56 for four.
The 31-year-old wasted no time in reaching his second Test century and first abroad, driving Broad for three from his first ball Saturday to bring up a 189-ball hundred including 11 fours.
After waiting 366 deliveries to take the fifth wicket, England then astonishingly collected three in three balls.
Broad, recalled with James Anderson after England’s two all-time leading Test wicket-takers were controversially left out of a series loss in the Caribbean, had Mitchell caught behind and bowled Jamieson, either side of Pope running out de Grandhomme after the batsman had left his crease following an lbw appeal.
Blundell, a helpless observer as the wickets tumbled, took his score to 96 only to fall short of a hundred when plumb lbw to Anderson.
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