Cricket-Root, Pope hit tons as England respond strongly in second test

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NOTTINGHAM, England (Reuters) -Joe Root scored his fastest test century while Ollie Pope struck a superb 145, as England launched a stirring fightback to reach 473-5 at the close of play on the third day of the second test against New Zealand on Sunday.

Resuming on 90-1 in the morning after the touring side had posted a massive first-innings total of 553, England excelled on a good batting wicket at a sunny Trent Bridge to trail by 80 when stumps were drawn.

Root was unbeaten on 163 with Ben Foakes not out on 24 after being handed a lifeline.

Pope, dropped early in his innings on Saturday, looked in sublime form for most of the day to notch his second test ton as the hosts made New Zealand toil with former captain Root joining in the fun after opener Alex Lees fell for 67.

"Amazing. He's England's greatest," Pope told the BBC while discussing Root. "Watching him do what he's doing at the moment -- it's a joy to be a part of in the changing room or out there in the middle with him. It's amazing to watch."

Root arrived having hit an unbeaten 115 to guide England to a five-wicket win in the first test but endured nervy moments early on and was lucky to survive after he flashed at a ball from Tim Southee who also dropped him at slip.

But the 31-year-old regained his composure to bring up his half-century off 56 deliveries, before frustrating New Zealand who struggled to contain the batters as they took their team past the 300-run mark in the 75th over.

A reverse sweep off Michael Bracewell took Root to 97 before an edge for a four off Daryl Mitchell two overs later completed his 27th test century and fourth at this venue, with the knock coming off only 116 balls.

It was Root's fourth century in five tests, coming after he reached 10,000 runs in the format in the last match, and a flick off the pads for four took him to 150 as he put New Zealand to the sword.

Earlier, it did not take long after lunch for Pope to score his century -- his first since 2020 and first on home soil -- as he cut Matt Henry for four before pushing him through cover for two to draw loud cheers.

Pope fell early in the final session as he top-edged one to Matt Henry off Trent Boult, who then removed Jonny Bairstow for eight after a review showed he edged the ball to the keeper, leaving England at 344-4.

Skipper Ben Stokes' blitz had New Zealand in a spot of bother but he perished for 46 attempting one too many sixes, as Bracewell claimed an important first wicket on his debut.

However, the Black Caps squandered another opportunity when Will Young dropped Foakes on 10.

"We've got to focus on our batting (tomorrow)," Pope added. "Hopefully sneak in front of them or get as close as we can and hopefully put them under pressure with early wickets."

Lees looked in good form earlier, fluently driving Southee for two boundaries before bringing up his maiden test fifty with a four off Kyle Jamieson, who later sustained a back injury.

On 67, however, Lees chased a wide delivery from Henry to edge it to Mitchell at slip and the fielder made no mistake to end the second-wicket partnership of 141.

The final test starts at Headingley on June 23.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)

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