Anderson was rewarded for outstanding new and then old-ball bowling with figures of 5-34 as the hosts were restricted to 269 all out, despite back-to-form Ross Taylor’s seventh one-day international hundred and a blistering 74 from Brendon McCullum.
Then Yorkshireman Root’s career-best 79 not out was the pick of three England half-centuries as the tourists managed a comfortable chase to win by eight wickets and therefore head for a decider in Auckland on Saturday.
Captain Alastair Cook, who along with Jonathan Trott also topped 50, was delighted to see such telling contributions from England’s senior bowler and one of their youngest batsman.
“That is a good sign,” he said.
“You always want these new guys pushing the seniors for places.”
Root has made his international debut in all formats over the last two months.
Asked if the 22-year-old has surprised him with how quickly he has flourished, Cook said: “Yes, he has. Especially in that knock (yesterday), he’s played shots I didn’t know he could play.
“He came in when we needed seven runs an over, and played very well.
“The way he has handled himself in international cricket so far has been very good.
“A lot of playing international cricket is about temperament, and he’s certainly shown the right attitude and been able to handle pressure.”
Root did so again here, joining Trott when more than 120 runs were still needed at seven-an-over, and going on to dominate their unbroken partnership.
Cook acknowledges, too, that, when Kevin Pietersen is back to reclaim his top-four ODI position at the start of next summer, there will be an added competition for places.
“It’s a good problem to have,” he said. “Joe can only keep doing what he’s doing, scoring crucial runs.”
Root was not the only England player to shine at McLean Park, though, and among the others, Anderson augmented his new-found status as England’s all-time most prolific international wicket-taker.
“I thought the way Steven Finn and James Anderson really set that tone, the first 12 overs were probably the best I can remember from our bowlers,” said Cook.
“We put them right on the back foot. Because we had that great start, we felt that whatever runs they got we’d be okay on a cracking batting pitch.
“McCullum got them up to a defendable total, but I thought if we kept wickets in hand we were very comfortable in chasing it.
“It was a really good performance the way we bounced back from the other day, because, obviously, the pressure was on us to deliver when you’re 1-0 down in a three-match series. People stood up.”
Cook’s opposite number, McCullum, easily identified where his team had gone wrong.
“We didn’t have enough runs, and also weren’t able to get any sustained period of pressure (with the ball) to bring wickets,” he said.
“There were a few areas where we were short. But I thought England’s new-ball bowling, end-of-innings bowling and also their batting were outstanding.”
The consolation for the Kiwis was Taylor’s first substantial innings since returning to the fold after losing the captaincy and falling out with coach Mike Hesson.
“I’m really pleased for Ross that he got a score, and it’s disappointing we weren’t able to get a win for him,” added McCullum.
“I thought he played really smart right the way through, and it’s great to see him back in form.”
As for Root, McCullum could hardly help but be impressed. “He’s busy, almost Australian-like with his presence at the crease,” he said.
Taylor, in his first significant innings since his controversial sacking as captain last year, had earlier rejoined forces with his successor McCullum to devastating effect.
England’s discomfort ended, though, when McCullum holed out to long-on off Stuart Broad to provide telling respite after his blitz of nine fours and four sixes off 36 deliveries.
The more sedate statistics of Taylor’s 116-ball seventh ODI hundred were evidence of necessary early caution in his fifth innings since returning to international cricket.
He still managed nine fours and his team’s first six, and earned a standing ovation when he was finally ninth out – caught behind off Anderson in the penultimate over.
The barrage of sixes and boundaries at the start of the last 10 overs was a startling contrast to the early part of New Zealand’s innings.
In reply, Cook and Ian Bell’s 89-run opening stand came in 20 overs, before Cook and Trott put on another 60. Cook could not convert a 67-ball 50 into three figures, tamely chipping a full toss straight back to Tim Southee.
Trott and Root found boundaries hard to come by initially but placed the ball and scurried well in an unbroken century partnership which always kept the equation in England’s favour – all the more so after the young Yorkshireman was badly dropped on 25 by McCullum racing back to a mishook off Trent Boult when 75 were still needed at seven-an-over.
Root then kicked on as required past his half-century off just 38 balls as Trott played the anchor role.
England Lions Matt Coles and Ben Stokes have been sent home from the tour of Australia for disciplinary reasons.
The Kent seamer and Durham all-rounder both attended hearings after what an England and Wales Cricket Board statement termed “unprofessional conduct”.