England v New Zealand: Joe Root & Ben Stokes lead hosts' fightback

By Stephan ShemiltBBC Sport at Lord's
Joe Root
Joe Root is averaging almost 95 in 11 Tests since the start of 2014
First Test, day one, Lord's
England 354-7: Root 98, Stokes 92, Buttler 67, Moeen 49*

Joe Root and Ben Stokes rescued England on an entertaining first day of the opening Test against New Zealand at Lord's.

Coming together with England reeling on 30-4, they shared a fifth-wicket stand of 161.

But both missed out on hundreds - Stokes leaving Mark Craig to be bowled for 92 off only 94 balls and Root edging Matt Henry behind to fall for 98.

Jos Buttler fell to the last ball of the day for a patient 67 to leave England 354-7, with Moeen Ali unbeaten on 49.

The position of strength is in contrast to the disarray of the morning session and is thanks to the class of Root and the counter-attacking brilliance of Christchurch-born Stokes.

Their alliance began with New Zealand making best use of their decision to bowl first on a green-tinged wicket with a ball moving in the air.

BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew
"At 30-4 on the opening day of the new international summer, it looked as if the naysayers would have another perfect opportunity to circle this vulnerable England team.
"But led by Joe Root and Ben Stokes, they showed fantastic character to recover to 354-7 by the close. They displayed the fighting qualities that we all want to see from an England team - it was a very good effort."
Read the rest of Aggers' view here

But Root - England's player of the year who has scored at least a half-century in each of his previous 10 Tests - busily changed the momentum before Stokes, promoted back to number six, dominated with some dazzling strokeplay.

Root, elevated to vice-captain, was strong square of the wicket, particularly on the off side, while left-hander Stokes began by scoring heavily through mid-wicket before playing all round the ground, including one hook for six.

"We got into a bit of a hole in first 45 minutes but to finish on 354-7, we would have taken that," Stokes told Test Match Special.

"Rooty over the last 18-20 months has been in incredible form, and when you are in the middle his record fills you with confidence."

Their partnership was compiled at better than five runs an over and made an attack that was previously so dangerous look short of ideas.

They were parted when 23-year-old Stokes, who seemed certain for a second Test hundred, misjudged the improving off-spin of Craig and played no shot to a delivery that clipped off stump.

Root running hot
In his past 17 Test innings, Joe Root has scored six fifties, three hundreds and one double century.

Root, 24, would come even closer to a century - it would have been a third at Lord's and fifth in the past year - before he under-edged to give impressive debutant Henry a third wicket.

At 251-6, the day could still have been New Zealand's, but Moeen, dropped down the order to number eight, was happy to be as watchful as Buttler in a stand of 103.

After surviving two big early shouts for leg before, Moeen mixed careful leaves with flowing cover drives, while Buttler displayed powerful front-foot play and some deft touches behind the wicket.

Their serene late-evening progress was ended when Buttler was trapped lbw by Trent Boult, New Zealand ending the day with the success they enjoyed in the first session.

As Boult and new-ball partner Tim Southee repeatedly found dangerous areas, England's top order crumbled to a combination of good bowling and loose batting.

Ex-England batsman Geoffrey Boycott on Test Match Special
"A wonderful day's cricket. Everyone who has come has had interest and entertainment. England were in the mire but it was a splendid performance of counter-attacking cricket from young guys with no fear who played brilliantly. It is not just about making runs but when you make them."

Debutant opener Adam Lyth actually looked comfortable in making only seven and was unlucky to get a beauty from Southee that held its line and was feathered behind.

Captain Alastair Cook aimed a hook at a Henry bouncer but could only get a top edge before Gary Ballance's poor footwork saw a Boult outswinger edged to third slip.

When Ian Bell was bowled by a near-unplayable delivery from Henry, England were in a remarkably similar position to their last Test innings, 28-4 in the defeat by West Indies in Barbados.

Since then, they have appointed a new cricket director in Andrew Strauss, sacked Peter Moores as coach and put Paul Farbrace in temporary charge.

It looked like the new era was beginning in the same way the old one ended. Some middle-order character, led by Root and Stokes, ensured that was not the case.

Dickie Bird
Legendary umpire Dickie Bird rings the bell to signal the start of play
Matt Henry
Matt Henry ended his first day of Test cricket with three wickets
Joe Root
Joe Root trades bat for camera after lunch
Ben Stokes
Ben Stokes hit 15 fours and a six in his thrilling counter-attacking innings
Jos Buttler
Jos Buttler has scored four half-centuries in nine Test innings
Trent Boult
Trent Boult bowled 24 overs for his two wickets on a day when England scored at almost four an over

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