London (AP): Alastair Cook reached his 27th test hundred in driving England to 261-4 and a lead of 127 over New Zealand by tea on the fourth day of the first test at Lord's on Sunday.
Cook and Joe Root, out for 84, answered a desperate need by their team for someone to score big, after England started the day at 74-2 and 60 runs behind the Kiwis.
They came together from the fourth ball of the day and survived searching spells of swing bowling by pacemen Trent Boult, Tim Southee and debutant Matt Henry, especially in the morning.
Cook, 32 overnight, continued where he left under lights on Saturday evening: Concentrated, no cracks in his wall and offering no chances either. He was letting the ball come to him, and not wasteful of loose deliveries.
His century came after Root was dismissed, and not long before an early tea brought on by light drizzle.
On 99, Cook drove Henry out of mid-off's reach and ran three singles with Ben Stokes. He swiped the air with his bat, took his helmet off and saluted all four sidelines, while receiving a standing ovation. England's leading century-maker tied Alan Border and Graeme Smith on the all-time list. It was his fourth at Lord's, and third against New Zealand.
But more importantly, it was his seventh ton when England began a third innings with a deficit, the mark of a fighter.
It took him 206 balls, and included a dozen boundaries.
Of course, moments later, came Cook's closest brush with being given out. He attempted to sweep part-time offspinner Kane Williamson, and the ball rapped his front pad. He was given not out, New Zealand reviewed, but not enough of the ball was hitting leg stump.
Stokes was with him on 22.
Root flirted with his wicket from the moment he came in, after Ian Bell was out off the third ball of the day, a Southee beauty. Bell was caught behind for 29 without adding to his overnight score.
Root, who scored 98 in the first innings, was tied down by the Kiwis initially. But he eventually came to dominate the partnership with Cook, before and after lunch.
With the seamers always probing, often with at least three slips, Root and Cook found relief from offspinner Mark Craig, whom they hit often and hard.
It was no surprise that Root fell to Henry, just the way it came about. Henry gave him two bouncers which Root left alone. But the third successive short ball was closer to Root and he pulled it, straight to where Boult was waiting to finish the trap at fine leg.
Root departed having hit 12 boundaries in 139 balls, and sharing 158 runs with Cook, who was on 98.