Fourth Test: Root’s century helps England wriggle out of trouble

By BD Naraayannkar

Ranchi, Feb 23 (UNI) Joe Root’s 31st Test century helped England to post 302/7 after wriggling out of trouble by the end of Day 1 of the fourth match here on Friday.

After winning the toss, England were reduced to 112/5 in the morning session on a deck helping both pacers and spinners.

But Root stitched a very crucial stand of 113 runs with Ben Foakes (47) for the sixth wicket, staging a comeback for the visitors.

The duo played out the second session without losing any wickets, a feat England cherished for the first time in the five-match series.

This they achieved by keeping Bazball under wraps and playing raw traditional cricket without taking risks.

Root, who was under tremendous pressure for not having been amongst big runs in the series, essayed a classical run-scoring approach.

His cautious approach turned the tides against India as the wicket lost all the dampness and settled very well for the batsmen to score after the turbulent morning session.

Root cracked his first fifty of the series and was the platform around which England built on their innings in the last two sessions, even though Indian bowlers baited him in a variety of ways including the reverse swing.

Foakes was a copy of Root as he hardly took risks to go for sweep shots, which was a foolish way of playing on the pitch that was kept low. Instead, the duo milked the ball around notwithstanding some close shots.

This was an indispensable stand after debutant Akash Deep had wreaked havoc in the first session, where he knocked off England’s top three batsmen.

Earlier, Akash had a dream debut, knocking off the top three batsmen as England reached 112/5 at lunch. The pitch gave help to both seamers and spinners, ending up in many LBW shouts and reviews, a lot of which went India’s way.

Amidst this, England kept on scoring runs at a brisk pace via Zak Crawley and Jonny Bairstow on a deck that appeared to break as the game progressed.

Before Captain Rohit Sharma employed spinner Ravindra Jadeja, Akash packed a punch by forcing left-handed Ben Duckett to nick one to Dhruv Jurel behind the stumps.

Crawley was bowled twice almost identically after surviving with Akash overstepping. The prodigious incoming ball proved too hot for him to handle as he watched his top of the off-stump disturbed after scoring 42 in as many balls.

Akash also had Ollie Pope, the centurion in the Visakhapatnam Test, by trapping him in front of the wicket, leaving England in a lurch.

Nevertheless, Bairstow went on a rampage to push India on the backfoot by stitching up a very crucial 52-run partnership for the fourth wicket alongside a cautious-looking Joe Root.

Just when they looked ominous, Bairstow went to sweep Ravichandran Ashwin and was out LBW on review. Jadeja capped off the first session by trapping England Captain Ben Stokes.

Brief Scores: England 302/7 ( Joe Root 106*, Ben Foakes 47, Zak Crawley 42; Akash Deep 3-70) vs India.

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