England take complete control vs India after another special Joe Root innings

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 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

For the third time this series, the sixth time this year, and the 23rd time in his career, Joe Root made a Test century for England. In this most purple of patches, this seems an almost everyday occurrence, but each one has been different in circumstance and skill. It was, put simply, another very special innings from a special player.

This was his first on his home ground since 2013, and his maiden Test century. With his family watching, he celebrated raucously when he clipped his 124th ball through midwicket for his 12th four, and was rewarded with a big bear hug from another local lad, Jonny Bairstow. He played some beautiful shots, especially on his toes through point and through midwicket off Ravi Jadeja.

This was not to be a daddy hundred like four of his centuries this year, but it was pure and succinct, and utterly chanceless. India have done so much right this series, but they have a Root-sized problem. He has scored more than 500 runs this series, and 875 of 1,398 runs this year have come against them. By the time Jasprit Bumrah bowled him with a fine delivery in the final session of the day, he had been suffering from a bad back and cramp. No plan India set worked, as he split the field beautifully.

Root has run India ragged. Only Mohammed Shami was at his best, but Bumrah was gallant. Ishant Sharma bowled poorly and was the worst offender in a dismal fielding performance. Ravi Jadeja does not look fully fit.

Little wonder Root has a bad back. No Englishman has ever scored more than Root’s six hundreds in a year and, if he plays every Test and shows even reasonable form, he has a good shot of overtaking Mohammad Yousuf’s Test record of 1,788 runs in a year.

But this was not the one man show that has become so familiar to England fans of late. The openers performed, and so did Dawid Malan, who scored 70 and put on 139 with Root at a very good lick.

Root had the luxury of coming to the crease in the 64th over, the latest he has entered the fray since September 2018 at the Oval, when he also made a century.

He was there because Haseeb Hameed had joined his opening partner Rory Burns in being bowled by fine deliveries in the sixties. Their stand was worth 135 when Mohammed Shami got one to nip back through Burns’ gate, then Hameed – having dropped anchor, facing 29 balls without scoring – was squared up by a beauty from Ravindra Jadeja that fizzed past his outside edge.

Root joined Malan, who looked in neat touch on his Test return, driving and cutting crisply. He had real rhythm when he was caught behind on review off Siraj to the final ball before tea. It was an unfortunate end to an outstanding session.

Root forged on, reaching his hundred, but England’s commitment to the brand is strong, so they managed to include a mini collapse of four for 33, even in a fine day. Bairstow was looking frisky, but edged Mohammed Shami to first slip, where Kohli took a fine catch. Jos Buttler listlessly chipped to midwicket, then Root was bowled by Bumrah. Moeen Ali attempted to launch Jadeja for six, but was caught at mid-on.

A helpful little partnership from Sam Curran – after a king pair at Lord’s – and Craig Overton took England past 400. Curran fell slogging Mohammed Siraj, but Overtyon and Ollie Robinson reached stumps with the lead at 345.

England will surely bat on in the morning and, when it is India’s turn, they have a mountain to climb.

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