Joe Root scored his 23rd Test century as he continued his stunning form in 2021 to help England hammer home their advantage over India in the third Test.
The captain’s sixth Test hundred of the year came up from 124 balls and even in an innings in which each of England’s top four passed 50 for the first time since 2013, with the returning Dawid Malan (70) adding to half-centuries from Haseeb Hameed (68) and Rory Burns (61), Root looked a class apart.
He was eventually dismissed for 121 by Jasprit Bumrah late in the day but as the capacity crowd at Emerald Headingley stood to applaud him off his home ground, England’s lead had already passed 300.
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The home side ended the day on 423-8, a lead of 345, and will hope to add a few more quick runs before trying to get stuck into India’s batsmen again on day three with the tourists requiring a monumental effort to avoid defeat.
England started the day on 120 without loss, already 42 clear of India’s first innings 78, but neither Burns nor Hameed was able to kick on having reached their fifties on day one.
India’s bowlers were able to keep things tight despite little in the way of lateral movement, either through the air or off the seam, but when Mohammed Shami did get the ball to nip, he made it count with a beauty of a delivery that snuck between Burns’ bat and pad to hit the top of off.
Hameed had looked assured on the first evening but became a little bogged down as the morning went on and had faced 28 dot balls in a row before he was bowled by a ripper from Ravindra Jadeja.
England vs India
August 27, 2021, 10:15am
That brought Root to the middle to join Malan and, as ever, we was quickly about his business to inject a bit of verve late in an otherwise slow-going session to take England’s lead past 100 in the last over before lunch.
Root carried that relentless energy into the afternoon session, never letting the India bowlers settle playing shot after glorious, effortless shot in the way only a player in the form of their life can do to race to 50 in just 57 balls.
Such confidence proved to be infectious as Malan, after a slightly subdued start, warmed to his task, driving nicely through the offside on a number of occasions on his way to a 99-ball fifty in his first Test in more than three years.
You have to go back eight years for the last time England’s top four all reached 50 and, on that occasion in Dunedin, the top four included nightwatchman Steven Finn.
The 100 partnership came up late in the same over and as tea approached, the usually so disciplined India attack was looking increasingly ragged, the second new ball seemed to serve only to help Root and Malan get it to the boundary quicker and England’s lead was upward of 200.
India got the stroke of luck they need with the last ball before tea as Malan tickled the ball down the legside to Rishabh Pant and, after bowler Mohammed Siraj managed to persuade Virat Kohli to review, UltraEdge confirmed the edge to bring a 139-run partnership to an end.
India’s toil was not over yet though with Root picking up where he left off after tea and breezing into the 90s.
His third hundred of the series was brought up by his 12th boundary, timed through midwicket off Ishant Sharma, from his 124th ball and was celebrated exuberantly by player and crowd alike.
No player has scored more Test centuries in a calendar year for England than Root’s six so far in 2021 and in reaching his 23rd ton, he draws level with Kevin Pietersen, with only Sir Alastair Cook (33) ahead of him in terms of England century-makers.
Jonny Bairstow (29) managed to thump Jadeja for six over long on in a 51-run stand with Root before he fell to Shami (3-87) and Jos Buttler (7) thumped a leg-stump half volley straight to square leg off the same bowler.
Root was beginning to show signs of stiffening up after yet another long stay at the crease but there was still time for him to reverse paddle-sweep Jadeja for four before his magnificent innings was ended by Bumrah; a nip-backer getting through Root’s defences to hit middle and off.
The ovation was the crowd was long and loud for their fellow Yorkshireman, who had extinguished any lingering hopes India may still have had of victory after day one and put England in the most commanding of positions as they look to level the series at 1-1.
Moeen Ali (8) and Sam Curran (15) departed before the close but England cruised past 400 and with Craig Overton (24no) and Ollie Robinson (0no) at the crease, they will hope to put a few more runs on the board and overs into the legs of the India bowlers before attention turns to taking the 10 wickets they will need to win the match.
Watch day three of the third Test between England and India from 10.15am, Friday on Sky Sports Cricket and Main Event.
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