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Former England captain Joe Root gave his successor Ben Stokes the perfect start to his reign at Lord’s, carrying England to victory with a century of victories to seal the first Test against New Zealand on Sunday.

Root left as skipper in April after five years and a record 64 games in charge, but remains the team’s most reliable performer and produced a 115-pitch shot to set up a five-wicket win .

In a game-breaking partnership with Ben Foakes, who went 32 unbeaten on a 120 stand, Root led the home side to a hard-fought 277 chase with his first hundred in fourth innings.

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Joe Root leads England past New Zealand in first Test at Lords, results

In doing so, Root became the second Englishman to reach 10,000 tries, following in the footsteps of his own predecessor as captain, Alastair Cook. The symmetry of their exploits doesn’t end there, with both men being exactly 31 years and 157 days old when they crossed the threshold.

It was Root’s 26th century, the same as West Indian great Sir Garfield Sobers, but he will be even happier with his importance to the team.

England were the marginal favorites as they recovered on 216 for five, with 61 runs still needed and five wickets in hand, but the task still looked like a daunting task.

With thick, gray clouds overhead and the floodlights blazing from the first ball, conditions were less than ideal for hitting. A flimsy tail, featuring at least three natural number 11s, also heightened the responsibility for Root and Foakes’ nighttime pairing.

But a game that went back and forth with a series of twists along the way was put to bed in an unusually serene way.

Root was the key man and he was reliably measured as he converted an unbeaten 77 in low-key fashion. However, Foakes deserves huge credit for how he held his end.

After successfully blocking the Kiwis’ attack on night three, soaking up 48 balls for his nine carries, the Surrey wicketkeeper has expanded his repertoire.

With limits to the bounty, he helped himself to two in the space of three deliveries from the dangerous Kyle Jamieson, hitting him with the back foot towards the third man before crunching a disc. Later, as the target fell below 30, he tipped on his heels and pulled Tim Southee between two defenders for four more.

Root entered the 90s drilling Jamieson into the floor, then had a slice of luck when a bottom edge escaped both his stumps and Tom Blundell’s dive en route to the ropes.

New Zealand had hoped to hang on and needed the second new ball to work magic for them. However, they couldn’t stop England’s scoring. Root started 77th on 98 runs in innings and 9,998 in his career and sent Southee into the middle of the wicket for a couple to make a proud double.

He slapped the air with joy and pointed the flag as the crowd showed their appreciation, with the winning line just a few strokes away. Root finished the job in a blaze of glory, taking Southee three-bound in an over as he finished things off with a merry mid-wicket swing.

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