By Ian Ransom
(Reuters) -Harry Brook and Joe Root smashed centuries in an unbroken 294-run stand to drive England to 315 for three before rain cut day one short in the second test against New Zealand in Wellington on Friday.
Batting sensation Brook was on a career-best 184 not out from 169 balls, while Root was unbeaten on 101 as the Yorkshire pair marched off midway through the final session at the Basin Reserve, having steered England from peril at 21 for three.
Brook has now scored four centuries in his past five tests, continuing an incredible start in the longest format after dominating the tour of Pakistan.
With 807 runs from nine innings, his batting average now tops 100 at a strike-rate of nearly a-run-a-ball.
Former Indian cricketing great Sunil Gavaskar has the record for most runs, 912, in first six tests, while Australian legend Donald Bradman scored 862 runs. Brook can surpass both over the course of the ongoing test.
"We've got them (New Zealand) on the back foot now; hopefully we can carry that on in the next few days," the 24-year-old Brook said.
Root sealed his 29th century with the last ball of the day, charging fast bowler Neil Wagner and flicking two off his pads.
New Zealand's bowlers had no answer for the pair, despite taking three wickets in the first hour after captain Tim Southee won the toss and elected to bowl on a grassy wicket.
England's 'Bazball' aggression was temporarily shelved as Brook and Root played a steadying hand in the morning but it soon returned after they survived to lunch at 101 for three.
The pair began hitting out after the break, reserving special punishment for Wagner, who was also roughed up in the series-opening defeat in Mount Maunganui.
He was wicketless for 101 runs at stumps, having conceded nearly six an over.
Part-time seamer Daryl Mitchell was also feasted upon, conceding nearly seven runs an over.
RUNS GALORE AFTER TEA
When on 31, former England captain Root survived an lbw review by inches, with the technology showing Matt Henry's ball hitting leg stump - yet not enough to over-rule the umpire. That was about as close as New Zealand got to breaking up the pair.
Root scored slower than Brook but loosened up after tea, pulling out the infamous reverse-scoop for four off Wagner.
Brook pounced on any delivery with a hint of looseness and smashed Mitchell for two sixes over his head in successive balls to race toward his century.
Root reached his 57th fifty in tests by pushing a single off Michael Bracewell, one ball before Brook cut the spin bowling all-rounder to the fence for four to bring up his hundred.
Southee and his players' heads would have been reeling at the end of a day which started with great promise.
Henry, recalled after missing the first test for the birth of his first child, had opener Zak Crawley feather an edge to be caught behind for two.
Number three Ollie Pope was out for 10 runs, edging Henry to Bracewell at third slip.
Southee had a driving Ben Duckett out for nine, with Bracewell diving to his left to pull down a spectacular, one-handed catch in the slips.
That was as good as it got for New Zealand, whose chances of levelling the series already appear bleak.
"It's a tough day of test cricket," Henry told reporters.
"Joe Root and Harry Brook were excellent today.
"(But) we know that if we come back tomorrow morning and we do fix those areas that we want to get a little bit better in, then we can get back in this fight."
England won the pink ball opener by 267 runs and are bidding for their first test series victory in New Zealand since 2008.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Edwina Gibbs, Robert Birsel and Himani Sarkar)