Jonny Bairstow’s remarkable unbeaten century and 89 not out from debutant Jamie Overton kept England in the third Test against New Zealand at Headingly.
On another thrilling day in England’s new era, the hosts collapsed to 55-6 in reply to New Zealand’s 329 on the second day.
But Bairstow and Overton combined for a rollicking unbroken stand of 209 to take England to 264-6 at the close, 65 behind.
Bairstow lit up his home ground with 130 not out, reaching his second hundred in as many innings off 95 balls.
The partnership continued England’s hair-raising approach under new captain Ben Stokes, a mindset which looked to have been given a rude awakening during the collapse.
Trent Boult bowled Alex Lees, Ollie Pope and Zak Crawley in a stunning opening spell and Joe Root nicked Tim Southee behind for five.
Stokes looked to counter-attack, only to drive to mid-off for 18 and leave England in a perilous position.
Daryl Mitchell earlier recorded his third hundred in as many Tests for New Zealand, but the tourists left the field having felt the full force of England’s wave of positivity.
England showed how they want to play under Stokes and new coach Brendon McCullum in their stunning final day chase at Trent Bridge last week.
This, with Bairstow at the centre once more after his 77-ball century in Nottingham, was another emphatic marker.
It was cricket on fast-forward – both good and bad.
After Boult brilliantly exposed the technique of the top order, Stokes’ decision to hit out looked to have laid bare the problems with their approach.
But, after a smart period of relative consolidation, Bairstow and Overton continued to attack in the final session.
They peppered the boundary, hitting 35 between them as England’s scoring once again matching that of a white-ball contest at 5.40 per over.
The pair came together with England six down and 274 behind, but ended the day still with hope of a win that would seal a 3-0 series victory.
Bairstow does it again
Bairstow was visibly emotional when reaching three figures as he ran almost to the boundary edge in celebration, his sister one of those in a riotous crowd.
The Yorkshireman is in the Test form of his life with this hundred his fourth in eighth Tests. He also become only the second Englishman after Ian Botham to score two Test centuries at better than a run per ball.
Bairstow was brilliantly supported by Overton, who, despite having scored only one first-class century, batted with technique some of those ahead of him in the order could learn from.
As he became more comfortable his attacking intent grew – he took Neil Wagner for 14 in one over, including a big six over mid-wicket – although he would have been out lbw for five had New Zealand opted for review.
Bairstow and Overton, whose run-rate increased over seven an over in the final 10 overs, capitalised on the fact the ball moved less than it did in the opening period.
When it did move Boult produced an outstanding spell, becoming the first bowler to bowl England’s top three since 1949.
He removed Lees for four with a perfect delivery that hit the top of off stump in the first over before two inswingers proved far too good for the defences of Crawley and Pope.
The Bairstow-Overton partnership was also an example to Stokes that, while the aggressive approach has merit, it is best saved for when the new ball has been overcome.
Mitchell capitalises on England tactics
Such was the drama that followed, Mitchell’s hundred – and England’s curious bowling performance – felt like a distant memory by the close.
After scoring of 108 in the first Test and 190 in the second he is the first visiting player with centuries in first three Tests of a series in England since legendary Australia batter Sir Donald Bradman in 1930.
Mitchell had fortune on day one when England did not review an lbw decision. In the second over of day two he edged Matthew Potts, but wicketkeeper Ben Foakes spilled the chance diving across Joe Root at first slip.
Otherwise Mitchell continued to bat in composed fashion, pulling with ease when England opted for a questionable short-ball theory throughout the morning session despite cloudy skies.
He lost partner Tom Blundell in the sixth over – lbw to the impressive Potts for 55 – but not before the pair passed 600 runs together in the series. They now have the highest haul together in a Test series by two New Zealanders.
After reaching his hundred with a six off Jack Leach and putting on a rapid 60 with Tim Southee, Mitchell fell in the final over before lunch, caught at mid-off.
The final two wickets fell in similar fashion after the break as Leach finished with 5-100, his first five-wicket haul first in the first innings of a Test in England.