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Root noses England in front of New Zealand at Lord’s

LONDON (AP) – A huge slice of luck for birthday boy Ben Stokes and a classy innings from Joe Root moved England into a winning position against New Zealand on a gripping third day on Saturday of the first test at Lord’s.

Set 277 to win by New Zealand, England appeared to be heading towards another tame defeat when the new skipper fell to an ugly hack which left the scoreboard reading 76-5.

But his dismissal for just 1 was scrubbed from the records when replays showed Colin de Grandhomme overstepping, a no ball that changed the shape of the game as England rallied to reach 216-5 at stumps.

Stokes celebrated turning 31 by clubbing his way to 54, including three sixes and five fours, riding his good fortune to drag England back into contention before predecessor Root took charge.

Root occupied the crease with calm authority as he finished with an unbeaten 77. With him was wicketkeeper Ben Foakes, who’d scored just nine runs of their unbeaten 57-run partnership.

England’s Joe Root plays a shot. PHOTO: AP

The hosts are clear favourites to get the remaining 61 they need as long as Root stays in.

Stuart Broad earlier led the bowling attack in a vital fightback which saw the Kiwis lose their last six wickets for 34, including a maiden wicket for debutant legspinner Matt Parkinson. At one stage the tourists coughed up three wickets in as many balls, with two for Broad and the forlorn De Grandhomme run out for a golden duck.

New Zealand held all the cards at the start of play, 227 ahead with six wickets in the bank and hundreds in sight for Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell. Mitchell became the 15th New Zealander to make a test century at Lord’s and finished on 108, while Blundell was trapped on 96.

But New Zealand failed to capitalise on the pair’s 195-run stand and their 285 all out offered the hosts a fighting chance.

“If New Zealand get 340-350, it’s a different game” Broad said. “I really enjoyed the feeling of getting the crowd going and lifting the energy in the stadium. The crowd responded brilliantly and so did the players.

“It’s been a really enjoyable test match, really exciting, and hard to know what is going to happen from hour to hour. It’s great knowing either team could win it.”