Root’s confident century aids England’s successful recovery

Root’s confident century aids England’s successful recovery

On a captivating opening day of the fourth Test, which the touring team has to win in Ranchi, Joe Root’s magnificent century temperate Akash Deep’s sensational debut and pull England out of danger.

Reverting to a more classical Root innings on Friday paid off handsomely as Root scored his first century of the series (in fact, his first score above 29) and his tenth Test century against India. Root had faced criticism for what was perceived as some mistimed innovation in the first innings of England’s 434-run loss in Rajkot. In doing so, he helped England finish strong at 302 for 7, after they had fallen to 57 for 3 and then 112 for 5, with Akash taking his first three wickets in Test cricket inside two overs.

The 27-year-old right-arm quick Akash, who was called up to replace the resting Jasprit Bumrah, opened the bowling with Mohammed Siraj and created havoc for England almost immediately. He hit a perfect length and found subtle movement on a dry pitch that was already showing some cracks that the seamers occasionally exploited for extra bounce. His eleventh ball was a beauty that sneaked back toward Zak Crawley and lingered a touch low to slip past the gate and send stump cartwheeling, but the no-ball siren, which indicated he had overstepped, silenced him and the jubilant audience.

Siraj let up 19 runs in his fourth over, but Crawley steadied and helped himself to 18 of those runs with three consecutive fours and a towering six over mid-on.

But Akash took two wickets in three balls, then a third to virtually erase his earlier disappointment, and England was thrust into trouble. The bowler angrily and repeatedly thumped the emblem on his breast in excitement after he had opener Ben Duckett caught behind off a length delivery that landed just outside off stump and jagged away slightly to kiss the outside edge.

After India reviewed and replays showed Akash hitting the top of leg stump with a ball that seamed in to beat the inside edge and strike the pad right on the knee roll, Ollie Pope followed for a duck, leg bye. Pope was down the wicket, but ultimately it didn’t do much good for him.Akash removed the opener for a run-a-ball 42 in his next over, the 12th of the game, by overcoming Crawley’s drawn four off another no-ball with a perfect-length delivery outside off that seamed back in and pinged the top of off stump.

Jonny Bairstow put on a 52-run partnership with Root, but after hitting 38 off 35 balls when India overturned Rod Tucker’s wicket, Bairstow was out as he attempted to sweep R Ashwin.

However, after a 113-run sixth-wicket stand between Root and Ben Foakes, the tourists were able to weather a middle session in which India lost wickets for the first time in this series.

A far cry from the enterprising England of the Bazball era, Root’s ton was built on hard, patient work, but he played the situation as it presented itself, absorbing the pressure and responding well. His undefeated 106, which featured nine fours, came off 226 balls. He had excellent support from Foakes, who faced 126 balls, including four fours and an incredible six off Ashwin over deep midwicket that completed the century partnership with Root. Foakes was three runs short of his fifty when he chipped Siraj to Jadeja at short midwicket.

With a stunning delivery that smashed Tom Hartley’s outside edge and crashed into off stump, Siraj took his second wicket. After Hartley was dismissed, England was at 245 for 7. Hartley had just avoided second slip with an edge that didn’t travel, but he managed to go past Yashasvi Jaiswal and run to the boundary rope.

Root and Ollie Robinson, who was not out at the end, put on another noteworthy stand, this one unbroken and worth 57 so far. On 8, after fellow seamer Mark Wood was substituted, Robinson was awarded not-out by on-field umpire Kumar Dharmasena, despite Jadeja’s lbw challenge.

Replay showed that the ball was striking middle stump, but India had already burned through all of their review shots and could only wonder what could have been.

Given the controversy surrounding his reverse-ramp dismissal in the previous match, it seemed appropriate that Root reached his hundred via a textbook cover drive off Akash that raced all the way to the boundary rope in a flash a short while later. This was his 31st Test century overall and one that had a hint of fairytale about it.
Robinson gave fans a taste of both the old and new England with a magnificent six off Kuldeep Yadav over deep midwicket.

He hit two more boundaries, a hammering jaiswal through midwicket and a cover drive off another no-ball from Akash to take Root and him to fifty. After winning the toss, Stokes would have anticipated seeing England reach the 300-mark, which felt far off in the morning but was anticipated to worsen.

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