Impressive centuries from Ollie Pope and Joe Root helped England close in on New Zealand's imposing first innings total on day three of the second Test at Trent Bridge.
The pair put on a third-wicket partnership of 187 as the hosts closed on 473-5, still 80 runs shy of the tourists.
Alex Lees and Pope picked up where they left off from day two as Lees reached his maiden Test half-century in his ninth innings, before he edged a Matt Henry (1-128) delivery to Daryl Mitchell for 67.
Root arrived and did not hesitate in building his own big partnership with Pope, not just piling on runs but doing so at pace.
The former England captain followed up his match-winning ton at Lord's with another 100 here, with this one being the fastest of his illustrious career, coming from just 116 balls.
Pope was finally out for 145 after top-edging a hook shot up in the air off Trent Boult (3-89), which Henry caught well diving forward.
A successful review against Jonny Bairstow (eight) saw him back to the pavilion after ultra edge showed a very slight spike as a Boult delivery passed his glove, with skipper Stokes next in, blasting 46 from 33 balls before hitting Michael Bracewell straight into the waiting hands of Boult.
Ben Foakes (24 not out) steadied things as he and Root (163 not out) looked to move closer to New Zealand's total with an unbroken partnership of 68, leaving the Test match tantalisingly poised heading into day four.
Welcome to the McCullum and Stokes era
With Brendon McCullum arriving as head coach of England's Test side with Stokes as captain, it was always likely to lead to more excitement.
It was therefore not all that surprising to see England finally getting Test runs, scoring 383 on the day, while also going at a potent run rate of 4.14 across the innings so far.
Three could be magic number for Pope
Pope had never even batted above four in the order until the first Test at Lord's, where he scored 17 in his two innings coming in at three.
However, he looked every bit the option McCullum will want in that role during this knock, which included three sixes, and will have pleased Root in particular, who would much rather stay in his favoured role at four.