Cricket-Root celebrates milestone with century as England punish India

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FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Third Test - England v Pakistan

(Reuters) - England's Joe Root celebrated his 100th test with an unbeaten 128 against India as he and opener Dom Sibley put the tourists in a commanding position in the opening match on Friday.

The England captain had demanded a big first-innings total from his team after electing to bat at Chennai's MA Chidambaram Stadium.

When they threatened to squander their strong start, Root partnered Sibley in a marathon 200-run stand to help England post a strong 263-3 at stumps.

Root's unbeaten knock was studded with 14 boundaries and a six.

Sibley made 87 before Jasprit Bumrah trapped him lbw with the final delivery of the day.

"Really pleased with the position we've got ourselves into now," Root told the broadcasters after the opening day's play.

"Bit of a shame to lose Dom at the end of the day there but we're just going to try and match that again tomorrow, make use of a really strong first day."

Root won an important toss and unsurprisingly elected to bat, avoiding the potentially tricky task of batting in the fourth innings on a crumbling wicket.

England got off to a steady start with a 63-run stand between Sibley and Rory Burns but faltered ahead of the lunch break.

Burns made 33 before attempting a reckless reverse-sweep against Ravichandran Ashwin and offering a simple catch to Rishabh Pant.

Bumrah then trapped Dan Lawrence lbw for a duck but Root and Sibley denied India a wicket in the steady second session.

Root survived an early run-out chance and the lack of carry in the wicket meant a couple of edges fell short of the fielders behind the stumps.

His battle against Ashwin is one of the sub-plots of the four-test series and the England captain took a single off the spinner to bring up his 20th hundred.

Root jumped in celebration while India counterpart Virat Kohli clapped.

Root, who suffered cramps towards the end, provided a template for playing spin bowling, using his feet and frequently playing the sweep shot after his early caution against Ashwin.

India, playing their first home series since the COVID-19 pandemic struck last year, looked sloppy in the field with several misfields while Pant dropped a low catch to reprieve Burns early in his innings.

They bowled 11 no-balls, four of them by left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem.

Bumrah, playing his first test on home soil, said there was not much help from the pitch.

"The ball became soft, the wicket was on the flatter side and the bounce was low -- we were left with limited options," he told a video conference.

"We put some pressure but gave away 20-25 extra runs in the last session. We'll come back tomorrow and put pressure on them again."

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Robert Birsel/John Stonestreet/Ken Ferris/Toby Davis)