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Root turns up the pressure on Kiwis.

JOE Root carried out his England Lions orders to a tee as he "ground down" New Zealand at Grace Road and took his first-class runs tally to 646 in his prolific start to the new season.

The Lions captain's six-and-a-quarter-hour 179 out of 444 for seven - his second-lowest score so far this summer - ensured the Lions finished a rain-wrecked fixture in a dominant position.

That was just what match manager, and England's limited-overs coach, Ashley Giles had asked of his team of Test hopefuls to keep the tourists on the back foot before they head to Lord's.

With that first Test and then a second on his home ground at Headingley to come, it is conceivable that Root could yet become the first Englishman in 75 years, and only the sixth, to pass 1,000 runs by the end of May.

The last batsman to achieve the feat in an English season was Zimbabwe-born Graeme Hick, in 1988, and new Test opener Nick Compton had an agonising near miss just last year.

Root's prospects remain unlikely, of course, but he has done enough to keep them just about realistic.

Irrespective of fanciful targets like that, Giles was once again impressed by what he had seen from the young Yorkshireman here.

"We talked about grinding them down, and we did," he said.

"It's great. Joe works very hard, and very specifically as well, and he's worked his game out.

"We still need to be guarded on how much we build the lad up - he's only played a few Tests - but so far so good."

On the final day in Leicester, where only four overs were possible after lunch because of rain, Root was still hungry for more runs.

The 22-year-old moved past 150 yesterday morning in the same over which saw his fifth-wicket partner Jonny Bairstow (68) reach his half-century - the latter with an inside-edge past leg-stump for four off Trent Boult.

Bairstow later fell lbw when Boult (three for 86) got enough movement back in from over the wicket.

But, joined by Ravi Bopara, Root continued until Doug Bracewell got through his forward defence to hit off stump and at last end a 276-ball innings which had contained 25 fours and a six.

Root's only significant blemish came two days ago, when he was put down at second slip by Kiwi captain Brendon McCullum off Bracewell on 23.

The Lions' hopes of putting New Zealand under more pressure in their second innings predictably evaporated as the rain arrived, with the lead 159.

In the absence of Tim Southee, who pulled up with a foot injury on Saturday, Boult again bowled well - and Bracewell saw off Chris Woakes for a single when the Warwickshire all-rounder played a long way inside a useful delivery.

For the Lions, Bopara batted with increasing fluency and confidence to finish unbeaten on 42.

| Rain ruined Glamorgan's chances of making it three wins from three at the top of Yorkshire Bank 40 Group C as their match against the Unicorns at the Swalec Stadium was abandoned without a ball bowled.

Umpires Peter Willey and Nick Cook decided to call the one-day game off at 4.30pm because of persistent rain.

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Joe Root picks up some runs during the match with New Zealand
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:May 13, 2013
Words:547
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