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England facing an uphill task to avoid defeat after Root loss

By Chris Stocks

England hopes of saving this first Test against New Zealand were dealt a severe blow when they lost captain Joe Root to the final ball of the fourth day at Eden Park.

Root had batted superbly to register his 38th Test half-century before being hit on the right index finger by Trent Boult in the last over.

However, the very next ball, he edged Boult behind to wicketkeeper BJ Watling to send England into the final day on 132 for three, still 237 runs behind and realistically needing to bat out the majority of the remaining 98 overs to save the game.

Despite being bowled out for 58 in the first session of the match, England's chances of heading into next week's final Test in Christchurch level in the series were greatly enhanced firstly by the rain that has blighted this match and then a much-improved batting display.

In total, they have been tasked with surviving 148 overs to avoid defeat after New Zealand declared their first innings on 427 for eight - a lead of 369.

Yet despite the late blow of losing Root, the 38th time he has failed to convert a Test half-century, England will still be hopeful they can avoid defeat.

Five years ago at this ground, they memorably salvaged a draw in the final Test of the series after heading into the final day with just six wickets in hand. It will still be a big ask, though, to repeat that great escape.

Belfast Telegraph

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