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England’s Joe Root leads by example with century in Hamilton

The captain adding 115 on the final day of the second tour match against a New Zealand XI.

Joe Root led by example as England’s frontline batsmen all finished their Test warm-up programme with heartening runs in the bank before next week’s first Test.

Captain Root appropriately tops the charts after dropping himself down to number six but duly adding 115 on the final day of the second tour match against a New Zealand XI at Seddon Park to his unbeaten half-century against the pink ball in the first.

Bottom-of-the-table, by contrast, is incumbent Test number three James Vince – whose departure for five, lbw on the back foot to Logan van Beek, took his aggregate to 50 runs in three attempts in this week’s back-to-back fixtures.

England closed on 353 for nine on their second designated batting day, Root having hit 17 fours in his 135-ball century.

Before play even started, there was another encouraging sight as key all-rounder Ben Stokes – who would later make 27 at number five – demonstrated his stiff back is improving by bowling gently on the outfield.

Moeen Ali got through 21 overs in the middle on day one here, and appears unconcerned by a return of the discomfort on his spinning finger which troubled him during this winter’s Ashes and has become an occupational hazard over the years.

“It always seems to crack at some stage,” he told Sky Sports.

“But it’s not really happened for a while until Australia … it’s not too bad.”

Moeen has also felt pain in his shoulder, not when bowling but throwing in from the deep.

“It’s more my shoulder has been a little bit sore,” he said, adding he does not expect his finger to stop him bowling in next week’s first Test in Auckland – where the pink ball, for the day-night match, has a less pronounced seam.

“I think I’ll get through this series, and I’ll be fine – because the first one is pink ball, and I’m pretty sure it’s not going to get any worse.

“I think it’s just the red Kookaburra ball – the seam seems to be a lot sharper.”

England’s collective improvement with bat and ball in Hamilton this week has been evident, and Moeen added: “As a team, I think on the first two days we were a little bit behind… just getting overs in the legs and in the field.

“A couple of guys hadn’t played for a while, so it was just getting back into it.

“Then I think the main message was to get the intensity up over the last two days.”

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