Leach, Bairstow propel England to complete whitewash over New Zealand

LEEDS: England’s spinner Jack Leach shone with two five-fers before the right-handed batter shone with a century and a half-century to power the home side to complete the clean sweep over New Zealand.

Set to chase 296 in the third and final Test, the English batters displayed brilliance as they sealed a comprehensive seven-wicket victory over the touring side.

In the run chase, the hosts had an unwanted start as they lost their opener, Alex Lees, cheaply, who walked back to the pavilion following a mix-up between the wickets after scoring a mere nine.

Zack Crawley then ran into the newly-joined Ollie Pope and added 34 runs for the second wicket before the former, who is struggling to score big, as he fell into the touring side’s plan after scoring 25.

With the home side struggling at 51-2, Pope and Joe Root then anchored the run chase as they put on a brilliant show of sheer resilience and dominance. The pair batted for more than 26 overs; both scoring fifties and added 134 runs to the team’s total before the conclusion of Day 4.

The veteran Kiwi pacer Tim Southee then shattered England’s dominant pair in the first over of the final day as he castled Pope with a ripper as the home side slipped to 185-3. The right-handed batter scored 82 off 108 balls with the help of 12 boundaries.

Last inning’s centurion Bairstow then joined Root at the crease and dominated the touring side’s bowlers. The pair put on an unbeaten 111-run partnership at a rapid pace and steered the side to the victory in no time.

Root remained unbeaten with his gritty knock of 86 off 125 balls, laced with 12 boundaries including a six, while Bairstow shone with a blistering 71 not-out off just 44 deliveries with the help of eight boundaries and three sixes.

For New Zealand, Michael Bracewell and Southee remained the only two bowlers to pick a wicket each in the second innings.

For his 10 wickets in the match, Leach was awarded the Player of the Match Award, while Root was adjudged the Player of the Series for his 396 runs and a wicket.

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