Root's unbeaten 180 edges England ahead against India in second Test

By: AFP      Published: 11:33 PM, 17 Aug, 2021
Root's unbeaten 180 edges England ahead against India in second Test

England captain Joe Root's commanding 180 not out, his second successive Test hundred and fifth this year, guided the hosts into a slender first-innings lead against India at Lord's on Saturday.

Root hardly erred during a near nine-hour stay at the crease in the second Test that was the cornerstone of England's 391 -- 27 runs ahead of an India first-innings 364 where KL Rahul made 129 and fellow opener Rohit Sharma 83. 

The England skipper faced 321 balls, with 18 fours, before James Anderson was bowled by Mohammed Shami off the last ball of the third day's play.

Root, with innings of 64 and 109, had been the only England batsman to pass fifty in last week's rain-marred drawn first Test of this five-match series at Trent Bridge.

On Saturday, however, he was ably assisted in a fourth-wicket partnership of 121 by Jonny Bairstow until his Yorkshire team-mate gave his innings away on 57.

"Obviously, Joe will be feeling pretty good," said Bairstow. "What a day for him. To pass 9,000 (Test) runs and score 180 not out at the 'home of cricket' is an amazing achievement. I've run out of superlatives, to be honest."

Fire in our bellies

England great Anderson, who took 5-62 in India's first innings, was repeatedly peppered by short balls before his dismissal and appeared to share some heated words with Virat Kohli, the tourists' captain, when they walked off.

"We can come with fire in our bellies tomorrow," said Bairstow. "When Jimmy Anderson comes to bowl on Sunday, he'll be ready."

England resumed on 119-3, a deficit of 245, and were again left looking to star batsman Root, 48 not out overnight.

At 23-2, Root had walked in to bat with England having lost their second wicket before reaching 50 for the 15th time in 19 Test innings this year.

Mohammed Siraj had done the damage, removing Dom Sibley and Haseeb Hameed, out for a first-ball nought, with successive deliveries on his way to 4-94 in 30 overs.

Root, however, square-drove Siraj for a stylish four to complete an 82-ball fifty.

Bairstow, six not out overnight, struck commanding straight-driven fours off Shami and Siraj en route to a 90-ball fifty.

England were 216-3 at lunch, having not lost a wicket in the morning session. 

But just before the new ball, Bairstow carelessly fell into an obvious hooking trap, gloving an attempted pull off a short ball from Siraj to Kohli in the slips.

Siraj marked all his wickets with a finger to the lips gesture he insisted was not aimed at the departing batsmen.

"The celebration is for the haters who said a lot about me: that I can't do this, I can't do that," said Siraj, 27,  playing in just his seventh Test. "So I wanted to show them only with the ball and that is the reason for this celebration."

Root's quick single off Jasprit Bumrah rook him to a 200-ball hundred, his fourth in Tests at Lord's.

This was Root's fifth Test century this year, with scores of 228 and 186 in Sri Lanka and 218 against India in Chennai preceding last week's effort in Nottingham.

His 22nd Test hundred also saw Root equal Walter Hammond, Colin Cowdrey, Geoffrey Boycott and Ian Bell, with only Kevin Pietersen (23) and Alastair Cook (33) having scored more Test centuries for England.

It was an all the more creditable innings given the ongoing strains imposed by Covid-19, with Root having to cope with the absence of all-rounder Ben Stokes, due to mental health issues, and fast bowler Jofra Archer, ruled out for the year with an elbow injury.

Recalled paceman Ishant Sharma checked England's progress with three middle-order wickets, bowling Jos Buttler with an excellent inswinger before Moeen Ali and Sam Curran were caught in the slips off successive deliveries during a return of 3-69 in 24 overs.

No 11 Anderson was hit on the helmet by a Bumrah bouncer during an over featuring four no-balls.

Root then hit two successive fours off Siraj -- an audacious reverse ramp over the cordon followed by a slog past deep square leg capping his 11th Test innings of over 150 as the 30-year-old Root became only the second England batsman, after Cook, to pass 9,000 Test runs.

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