NEW ZEALAND opener Tom Latham plays a short-pitched ball during the third Test against England at Headingley on Saturday.

New Zealand’s Tom Latham hit his highest score of the series as the tourists responded after an astonishing England stand featuring Jonny Bairstow’s latest hundred and Jamie Overton’s 97 on debut in the third Test at Headingley.

World Test champions New Zealand were 125-1 in their second innings, a lead of 94 runs, at tea on Saturday’s third day.

Latham was 76 not out, far exceeding his previous best of 26 this series, with New Zealand captain Kane Williamson unbeaten on 37.

England’s erratic catching returned to haunt them when, with Latham on 72, first slip Joe Root dropped a routine chance off Stuart Broad.

But with England previously having chased down 299 inside a day to win the second Test and go 2-0 up in the three-match series, there was still plenty of work left for the Black Caps’ batters.

Earlier, Overton fell agonisingly short of a hundred in his first international innings but local hero Bairstow extended his overnight 130 not out to 162.

The pair had come together with the hosts in dire straits at 55-6 but their England record seventh-wicket stand of 241 was the cornerstone of an eventual total of 360 — a first-innings lead of 31.

Overton, selected as a fast bowler in place of the injured James Anderson, was within one shot of getting to three figures in his maiden international innings when he nicked Trent Boult low to first slip Daryl Mitchell.

The 28-year-old, who resumed on 89, never regained the fluency he had on Friday and it was no surprise when Boult, who had removed all of England’s top three with a superb display of new-ball bowling, located Overton’s outside edge.

England’s new leadership duo of captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum had urged the team to play with freedom after taking charge of a side that had won just one out of 17 Tests prior to this series.

Broad, a fast bowler by trade, embraced the new approach by hitting Boult for 14 runs in three balls courtesy of two fours during a quickfire 42.

Spectators had already had plenty to cheer as Yorkshire favourite Bairstow, fresh from his match-winning 136 in Nottingham, went to 150.

But one ball after Broad’s exit, he holed out off spinner Michael Bracewell to end a brilliant 157-ball innings including 23 fours.

Bairstow then resumed his former role of wicket-keeper, with Ben Foakes unable to take the field because of a stiff back.

New Zealand opener Will Young fell cheaply after lunch when he edged Matthew Potts to Ollie Pope at third slip.

With the second-wicket duo holding firm, Stokes brought himself on for his first bowling stint of the match, only for his opening delivery to be cover-driven for four by Williamson.

Latham forced the paceman off the back foot for his sixth boundary before a single took him to a 70-ball fifty.

At the close of the second day, Bairstow and Overton had blazed a thrilling unbeaten seventh wicket stand of 209 in 223 balls to guide their teetering side to 264 for six.

The pair did it in some style too, with a mix of aggressive hitting and deft stroke-making as New Zealand were simply unable to slow the flow of runs.

After Daryl Mitchell’s third century of the series helped New Zealand to 329 just after lunch, seamer Trent Boult clean bowled England’s opening three batters as the hosts’ top order wilted.

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