England v New Zealand: Ollie Pope and Joe Root put hosts on course for 3-0 series win
|Third LV Insurance Test, Headingley (day four of five)|
|New Zealand 329 (Mitchell 109, Leach 5-100) & 326 (Blundell 88*, Latham 76; Leach 5-66)|
|England 360 (Bairstow 162, Overton 97) & 183-2 (Pope 81*, Root 55*)|
|England need further 113 runs to win|
England need 113 runs with eight wickets in hand to complete another superb final-day victory against New Zealand in the third Test at Headingley.
Set 296 to win, England hurried along once again to reach 183-2 on day four.
Ollie Pope made 81 not out and Joe Root an unbeaten 55, putting on 132 after Alex Lees was run out for nine and Zak Crawley caught for a frantic 25.
After chasing 277 in the first Test and breathlessly pursuing 299 to win the second, victory in Leeds will give England a 3-0 series clean sweep over the World Test champions.
They would have hoped to earn themselves a smaller target when New Zealand resumed on 168-5 – 137 ahead – but were thwarted by Tom Blundell’s 88 not out.
Blundell, who overturned an lbw decision on 52 and was dropped on 67, combined with Daryl Mitchell yet again for their fourth century stand of the series.
Mitchell fell lbw for 56 to Matthew Potts 50 minutes into the afternoon session before Jack Leach took the last four wickets for 35 runs to claim 5-66 and his first 10-wicket match haul in Tests.
If England pull off the win they will become the first team to chase 250 three times in a row.
A full house is expected on Monday after Yorkshire followed the lead of Nottinghamshire, the hosts of the second Test, in allowing spectators in for free to watch this energised England side attempt do so.
Transformed England eye clean sweep
Before this series, when England had one just of their past 17 Tests, a chase of almost 300 would have looked far beyond them.
But they have been transformed under new coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes to the point that anything now looks possible.
At Trent Bridge last week they had 72 overs to chase 299 and did so in 50 overs.
With four sessions to reach their target on this occasion, they batted in slightly more measured fashion but still eased along at more than four an over, Joe Root reverse sweeping his first ball and later playing an outrageous scoop for six off pace bowler Neil Wagner.
New Zealand’s only spinner, part-timer Michael Bracewell, was ineffective and seamers Trent Boult and Tim Southee were neutered by a lack of movement and a flat pitch.
Showers are forecast on Monday morning, but there should still be time for either side to force a win.
Root and Pope cruise after Crawley fails again
In truth, England would not have wanted the close to have come because Pope and Root were cruising in late-evening sunshine against bedraggled opponents hurt by the decision to leave out frontline spinner Ajaz Patel.
Both batters nicked between wicketkeeper and first slip off Bracewell’s off-spin but otherwise were comfortable.
Pope batted at a spritely pace, as he did in his 145 in the second Test, and drove elegantly through the covers.
He also brought composure to proceedings after a frantic start during which Lees was run out in the fifth over after a mix-up with Crawley, who himself played an innings that summed up his international career.
Crawley was dropped on nought playing a wild drive, cracked four elegant fours in one Boult over and then carelessly tried to hit Bracewell out of the rough to be caught at extra cover. He ended the series without a fifty.
Shortly after, New Zealand burned two reviews in consecutive balls to try to dismiss Root lbw, but on both occasions the ball hit him outside the line of off stump.
More to follow.