All results were possible after Kane Williamson declared at lunch with New Zealand 169-9 at lunch.
But it quickly became clear that England intended to bat out for a draw rather than attempt to chase down the total, with opener Dom Sibley scoring 60 from 207 balls as the hosts moved to 170-3 by the time the teams shook hands.
The two-match series will now be decided at Edgbaston, with the second Test starting on Wednesday.
Asked about England’s approach with the bat, Root said: ‘You look at the conditions and surface, it was very challenging. It was slow and hard to time the ball and get any sort of rhythm.
‘You look at the target and amount of overs you have, it wasn’t quite as straightforward as that. We knew it was always going to be difficult.
‘Initially, we set out to have quite an open mind and it got to the stage where it didn’t feel like it was quite possible to get that on.
‘Of course it will disappoint a few people but from our point of view, we’re very much in this series. We leave here level and give ourselves a great chance to win the series at Edgbaston.’
Former England captain Nasser Hussain told Sky Sports: ‘It was disappointing for the fans. I’m surprised England didn’t show a bit more intent – there only seemed to be one side keen to win.
‘It’s why Kane Williamson stayed on at the end there. He could have shaken hands with 15 overs to go, but he didn’t because he was the one that was playing the positive cricket.
‘I understand why England didn’t go for it, you have to put it into context and they’ve lost their last three Test matches, plus they’ve got no Buttler, no Stokes. If they were playing, they may have had a bit more intent.
‘You do have to look at the bigger picture of where this England team are and where they’re trying to get to. But at least try to go at it hard, show some intent, and then if you get four down, then you can block.
‘I was surprised that in the whole 70 overs they showed no intent at all. I think the fans here deserve better than that.’
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