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England left with more soul-searching to do: Root

 

By David Clough

Joe Root insists England proved their mettle even in defeat against New Zealand but face more "soul-searching" as they try to hit back from 1-0 down in the second and final Test.

England had a mountain to climb after collapsing to an embarrassing 58 all out at the very start of New Zealand's inaugural day-night Test at Eden Park.

Two days of rain aided their survival cause but eventually, even after four second-innings half-centuries, they were bowled out for 320 in the final session to lose for the 10th time in 12 away Tests by an innings and 49 runs.

It was a difficult task for the captain to put much gloss on another disappointing performance, but he emphasised that his rallying call was answered.

Root said: "I asked the guys at the start of the day, 'Show everyone how much it means to you to play for England and represent your country'. I thought we got that from the guys.

"We were always fighting our way back into the game, but the character the guys showed was a step forward - and we simply need to be better when we get to Christchurch."

There, England may yet be without Ben Stokes - who returned for his first Test in six months, after his enforced Ashes absence, as a specialist batsman only because of his stiff back.

The injury resurfaced while Stokes was making a defiant top-score of 66, and Root warns the all-rounder's participation cannot be taken for granted on Friday.

Root said: "With Ben, it's day-to-day with his back and making sure he's fit to play. That assessment will continue throughout this week, and if he's not fit to play he won't play."

Both Stokes and Root followed first-innings ducks with 50s.

"In the first innings, we didn't adapt quickly enough to the situation, the conditions," added the Yorkshireman. "That is very disappointing, because we're used to the ball seaming around and at no stage did anyone get themselves in partnerships.

"It was important we did show character, important this week leading into the (second) Test match we do some soul-searching and get things right."

Whether there may be selection changes is a moot point which Root is not yet about to clarify.

"There's a lot of emotion, and it's still very raw," he said. "It's very important we have some rational thinking, and we sit down and make sure we go into that Test match with the XI we think is going to win the game.

"We have to make sure someone stands up - or a couple of guys do - and take it on themselves to put in match-winning performances, which we do frequently in our own conditions."

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