Ben Stokes has scored the fastest-ever Test hundred at Lord’s, while England captain Alastair Cook weighed in with a less spectacular but equally valuable century of his own as the hosts fought back against New Zealand in the first Test.
England were 6-429 in their second innings at stumps on the fourth day, a lead of 295 runs, despite having been outplayed for much of this match, the first of a two-Test series.
Cook was 153 not out – his fourth and highest Test century at Lord’s – after Stokes had struck a truly thrilling hundred against the country of his birth in just 85 balls, including 15 fours and three sixes.
Only three sides have scored more than 200 in the fourth innings to win a Test at Lord’s.
England were in trouble when they lost Ian Bell, caught behind off a Tim Southee outswinger, to Sunday’s third ball without adding to their overnight score to be 3-74.
But Cook, whose century saw him extend his England Test record to 27, shared partnerships of 158 and 132 with Joe Root (84) and Stokes (101) respectively.
Root, out for 98 in the first innings, again missed out on a century but Stokes followed his first-innings 92 with his second Test century but first in England following his 120 against Australia in Perth in 2013.
Earlier, Cook scored his second hundred in as many Tests after he ended a near two-year-wait for a Test ton with 105 against the West Indies in Barbados earlier this month.
It was also his first ton on home soil since his 130 against New Zealand at Headingley in 2013.
As the ball became older, things got tougher for New Zealand’s quicks, while off-spinner Mark Craig was hit for 54 runs in 10 overs after lunch.
But Root fell into an obvious hooking trap when he holed out to Trent Boult at long leg off Test debutant fast bowler Matt Henry.
England were now 4-232, with the match very much in the balance.
A composed Cook off-drove Henry for three to complete a 206-ball century featuring 12 fours.
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum wasted no time in taking the new ball, with overcast conditions also promising to make batting difficult.
However, Stokes, the Christchurch-born but England-raised son of former Kiwi rugby league international Ged Stokes, responded with two hooked sixes off successive Southee deliveries.
The second was dropped by substitute fielder Doug Bracewell, clearly worried about stepping over the boundary rope.
But when Southee pitched short next over, Stokes pulled him for a far more convincing six and next ball drove him down the ground for four.
Southee’s first six overs with the new ball were savaged for 53 runs.
Left-arm paceman Boult also got the Stokes treatment, driven down the ground for four as the 23-year-old went to 99.
Then a single though midwicket saw left-hander Stokes to a stunning hundred as he bettered the 87-balls taken by India’s Mohammad Azharuddin for a Test century at Lord’s in 1990.