England v India: Joe Root makes superb century at Trent Bridge

England 183 (Root 64; Bumrah 4-46) & 303 (Root 109, Bumrah 5-64)
India 278 (Rahul 84, Robinson 5-85) & 52-1
India need a further 157 runs to win

Joe Root stroked a century of the highest class to give England hope of beating India in a see-saw first Test at Trent Bridge.

On a compelling, thrilling and competitive fourth day, captain Root was magnificent in making 109.

With Sam Curran, Jonny Bairstow, Dom Sibley and Dan Lawrence chipping in, England – who at one stage looked in danger of being beaten with a day to spare – reached 303 in their second innings, setting India 209 to win.

Pace bowler Jasprit Bumrah ran through the lower order with the second new ball to take 5-64 and finish with match figures of 9-110.

India were given an hour to bat and looked set to come through unscathed before Stuart Broad had KL Rahul caught behind for 26.

There was still time for Rohit Sharma to survive a tense England review as India closed on 52-1, needing another 157 for victory.

Super Saturday sets up Trent Bridge thriller

There have been times in this match when England looked floored – when they were bowled out for 183 in the first innings, when India reached 205-5 in response and when England found themselves 46-2 on the fourth morning.

However, thanks to the sheer brilliance of Root, they are still in the contest going into what could be a grandstand final day.

On top of Root’s knock, a packed Trent Bridge was treated to the skill of Bumrah and the shots of Curran and Bairstow. Even Sibley’s vigil was strangely satisfying.

There were moments of pure theatre. As India burned their final review in a desperate bid to remove Root, Virat Kohli was taunted by the home fans. Curran duelled with Mohammed Siraj, while Kohli went face-to-face with Ollie Robinson.

As India began their chase, the growing gloom added to the drama, play seemingly always on the verge of being suspended until the sun appeared for Broad to remove Rahul.

Rain is forecast for Sunday, but it was also due to spoil what turned out to be a memorable Saturday. The hope is that this absorbing contest can be played to a conclusion.

Remarkable Root does it again

For much of 2021, Root has almost single-handedly carried England’s flimsy batting. This was more of the same, a captain’s knock that altered their course from defeat to an outside chance of victory.

When Root arrived, England were still 49 behind, yet he instantly changed the tempo with flowing cover drives and urgent running.

He added 89 with Sibley, who twice could have been run out and overturned an lbw in his 28 from 133 balls. Bairstow, with 30, Lawrence’s 25 and a punchy 32 from Curran provided further support.

When Root drove down the ground to reach his 21st Test century, it sparked prolonged and emotional celebrations, with the Yorkshireman signalling to wife Carrie and beating his chest in the direction of the vocal England fans.

Root fell in Bumrah’s first over with the second new ball, sparking a final England slide of four wickets for 29 runs.

He left to a rapturous ovation, with everyone inside Trent Bridge knowing they had witnessed one of the great Test innings.

India stay on course

India have only once won the first Test in a series in England – in 1986 – and they remain favourites for a repeat despite Root.

They were helped by some loose shots. Sibley drove at a wide one to give an inside edge, Bairstow sloppily pulled straight to deep square leg and Jos Buttler was bowled offering no stroke.

And, just as Root and Curran were building momentum and India were feeling the heat from the crowd, Bumrah intervened.

Extra bounce induced an edge from Root, Curran shovelled to mid-on and Stuart Broad was bowled first ball off his pads by a searing inswinging yorker.

Robinson’s slice to third man was the signal for the chase to begin, Rohit and Rahul facing a potentially perilous period against a revved-up England.

The openers managed to silence the crowd, only for Broad to change ends and remove Rahul, before Rohit and Cheteshwar Pujara added some late runs on what remains a true pitch.

‘One of the great innings of all time’ – what they said

Former England captain Michael Vaughan on BBC Test Match Special: “We have witnessed one of the great innings of all time. We have seen Root play plenty of magnificent innings but that was just pure.

“He would never admit it but he does carry this batting line-up.

“It was a wonderful day of Test cricket. From where England were two days ago to where they are now, they have a glimmer of hope of winning because of their captain.”

Former India wicketkeeper Deep Dasgupta: “This has been a great advert for Test cricket. It has seemed like every over, maybe even every delivery, has been a key moment.

“Joe Root, what a masterclass. He showed how good he is and how far he is head and shoulders above the rest of England’s batters.”

BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew: “If you think of that target as an apple, India have taken a healthy bite out of it.”

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