Joe Root continued his prolific early-season form with his third hundred in four innings as his England Lions team fought back strongly against New Zealand at Grace Road.
Root (105no) and Michael Carberry (77) shared a stand of 182 in a stumps total of 219-2 as the captain, sure to be named in England’s Test squad today, took his first-class tally well beyond 500 runs in just those four attempts so far this summer.
Toby Roland-Jones (4-54) had earlier doubled his wicket tally to help bowl the Kiwis out for 285 – a mediocre return for the tourists, who had closed a rain-restricted first day on 184-3 but endured a bleak second with both bat and ball.
After Hamish Rutherford went early, for the addition of only 10 to his overnight 116, the Kiwis never threatened significant consolidation despite a durable 42 not out from Dean Brownlie.
Root and Carberry, joining forces after the early departure of Varun Chopra on another mostly cloudy and occasionally rainy day, have fared well together previously for the Lions.
Almost exactly a year ago, they put on 197 in a 10-wicket win over West Indies at Northampton.
This time, apart from an escape for Root on 23 when Brendon McCullum dropped a tough chance high to his right at second slip off Doug Bracewell and then another close call for lbw when Trent Boult found some late inswing, the second-wicket pair always looked in control.
New Zealand’s Tim Southee managed a breakthrough at the pavilion end, finding enough movement for Chopra to edge low to McCullum at second slip. But Root and Carberry closed out the middle session and then, between the evening showers, duly posted twin 50s.
Carberry’s came first, from 117 balls, but Root’s was quicker and completed impressively with a straight six after advancing to Martin’s left-arm spin.
They became ever more authoritative until Carberry picked out Rutherford at deep square-leg off Martin to end his 187-ball stay.
Yorkshireman Root, left with nightwatchman Chris Wright for company until the close, defied the gathering gloom to complete his hundred with a cut off Martin for his 15th four from his 161st ball.