Joe Root century gives England lead in second Test against India
By Devarchit Varma August 15, 2021
England captain Joe Root batted all day long on the third day of the ongoing second Test at the ‘home of cricket’, Lord’s, to hit an imperious century and remain unbeaten on 180 to help his team take a slender but morale-boosting 27-run lead in the first innings on Saturday.
England replied with a resolute total of 391 against India’s 364 to edge ahead in the contest, which leaves the teams with only two days to force a result with a minimum of 180 overs that are to be bowled.
The first Test was forced to end in a disappointing draw on the final day when rains did not allow a single ball to be bowled while India stood 157 runs away from victory. With 52 runs knocked off at the loss of two wickets, India stood a strong chance of a win which would have given them bragging rights in the series.
But as things stand right now, England are as much as in the competition and up for a dogfight as India fancy their own chances
India were certainly on top going into the third day with 245 runs in lead and England looking at a mountain to climb. But under the leadership and guidance of a batsman of his kind, Root led the English charge, pummelling the Indian bowlers while recording a spectacular hundred — one that will be remembered for a long time.
Root’s 180 not out included 18 boundaries from as many as 321 deliveries. He was imperious in the third-man area, in the cover region as well as square off the wicket, collecting 37, 31 and 37 runs respectively to stitch a brilliant Test hundred.
Along the way, Root forged many partnerships that kept the scoreboard ticking and drained the best out of the Indian bowlers. But not Mohammed Siraj, who kept having a crack at the English batsmen, particularly Root, to finish with an inspirational figure that read 30-7-94-4.
Siraj refused to give up throughout the day on Saturday when the conditions and the pitch completely favoured batsmen — something that England made most out of.
Having lost two DRS reviews against the English captain by targeting his pads from over the wicket, Siraj did not lose heart but kept producing infectious energy and confidence all day long to keep attacking the English batsmen with pace, bowling angles and variations, despite his fellow bowlers Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami looking futile.
But it was a day which truly belonged to Root, and his team. Having added 85 for the third wicket with Rory Burns on the second day evening to give England a strong footing, Root went on to add 121 runs for the fourth wicket with Jonny Bairstow who notched up a crucial half-century himself.
After keeping the Indians at bay for the entirety of the first session, Bairstow was the first to flinch after play resumed in the second session, falling to the ploy of bodyline bowling which in a way forced the English batsman who loves putting his bat on the ball, to play more rather than fend them off. Bairstow fell while attempting to pull a short ball from Siraj, with the ball lobbing up off his gloves and Virat Kohli taking a gobbler.
Despite the breakthrough, the visiting team struggled to strike at regular intervals as the England captain kept his side moving. Jos Buttler joined Root in the middle and the two added 54 runs from 78 balls as India looked frustrated again.
But then, Buttler is weak against deliveries that are targeted at the top of his off-stump and that is what Ishant Sharma targeted to break the partnership.
Moeen Ali, playing his first Test since February this year and in England for the first time since September 2019, did not show any signs of trouble as he put on another 58-run stand with Root to put England in a position of taking a big lead in the first innings.
However, Ishant, who had looked largely ordinary for the big part of the day finally found his rhythm to have Moeen caught in the slips by Kohli for 22, and on the next delivery, he drew an edge off Sam Curran’s bat which was taken sharply by Rohit Sharma in the slip cordon.
For Root, who was rapidly running out of partners, it became imperative to start looking for quick runs. He sent the world in a tizzy by flicking Siraj over the slip cordon for a spectacular boundary, which reminded of the outrageous stroke that Rishabh Pant played against James Anderson a few months ago in India.
Anderson was given a work-over by Jasprit Bumrah, who was shockingly erratic with front-foot stepping, landing ahead of the crease as many as 10 times. This was the first time in a decade that any bowler has overstepped that many times in a day’s play, and to have it done by one of the best in the world was certainly a shocker for the Indian side.
Mohammed Shami cleaned up Anderson on the final over of the day which meant that the hosts were only 27 runs ahead at the close of play on Saturday.
Devarchit Varma is a cricket writer and journalist with an experience of more than a decade, having worked at Hindustan Times (newspaper) and CricketCountry (website). Along with covering international and domestic cricket, he has also interviewed several current and former top players such as Rohit Sharma, Steve Smith, Dale Steyn, Michael Hussey, Jacques Kallis, Brendon McCullum, Shane Watson, Lasith Malinga and many more. He has also worked in other beats as a journalist in Bollywood (Reliance BigOye) and IT (SiliconIndia) industries.
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