Joe Root has put an exclamation mark on another extraordinary batting display for England, as his side closes in on a Test series clean-sweep against New Zealand.
England reached stumps on day four at 2-183 in their second innings, needing 113 more runs against the Black Caps in Leeds with one day left in the third and final Test.
Joe Root (55no) continued his incredible vein of form, sharing an undefeated 132-run partnership with Ollie Pope, who blasted 81 not out.
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England are chasing a winning target of 296 after dismissing the world Test champions for 326, with spinner Jack Leach taking 10 wickets for the match at Headingley.
While Pope top-scored for the home side on day four, it was Root who stole the show with an audacious bit of skill off the bowling of Kiwi quick Neil Wagner.
Demonstrating all the confidence of the world's No.1 ranked Test batter, Root produced an insane switch-hit for six that left viewers stunned.
Using the pace and bounce of the ball that pitched outside his off-stump, Root played an extraordinary reverse scoop to the boundary that left fans in disbelief.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) June 26, 2022
England 96/2 chasing 296 to win and Joe Root is reverse sweeping seamers for 6 🤣 Incredible positivity and confidence that McCullum has instilled in this team
— Ryan Burl (@ryanburl3) June 26, 2022
— Ayesha (@JoeRoot66Fan) June 26, 2022
Joe Root scooping for 6 was ridiculous btw
— 🌚🇳🇱 (@Jord260497) June 26, 2022
— Sarvesh Patel (@the__Sarvesh) June 26, 2022
Joe root reverse scooping and paddling for 6 in test cricket is a sight to behold. What a bloke he is
— Arie 🏴 (@AGJ27_) June 26, 2022
With the emphasis now on entertaining and aggressive cricket under new captain Ben Stokes, England successfully chased down 299 with some 22 overs to spare in the second Test, and they still have a full day to win the third.
England started the day with an unexpected personnel change when wicketkeeper Ben Foakes Tested positive for Covid-19 and Sam Billings was summoned as an emergency replacement.
England had an early setback when Alex Lees was run out for nine.
Joe Root and Ollie Pope combine to punish New Zealand
Root arrived at 2-51 after Zak Crawley (25) was dismissed and the runs kept flowing at a rate more suited to ODIs, with twin half-centuries for Pope and Root as England hurtled along at 4.69 an over.
"The wicket is deteriorating. A little bit of variable bounce, obviously with the spin as well," New Zealand batter Tom Blundell said.
"It's quite hard to drive with that older ball. It looks like it's going to deteriorate even more and hopefully we can utilise that tomorrow."
Earlier, Blundell ran out of partners and was 88 not out at the end of New Zealand's second innings. He shared another impressive partnership with Daryl Mitchell (56).
"It's obviously disappointing: as a group we probably haven't been quite there," Blundell added.
"On a personal note, it's been fantastic to bat with Daryl and have those partnerships, it's just unfortunate that a couple of results haven't really gone our way."
The tourists resumed the fourth day on 5-168, stretching their lead to 223 at lunch.
Mitchell and Blundell have been constant irritants to England over the course of the series, sharing big stands of 195 and 236 at Lord's and Trent Bridge, respectively, and the pair once again combined to shut down the home attack.
Mitchell became the first touring player to score more than 500 runs in a Test series of three matches or fewer in England.
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