Root, Bairstow star as England level series in record chase

Wednesday, Jul 06, 2022

BIRMINGHAM: Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow both hit hundreds as England continued their resurgence with a record fourth-innings chase to beat India by seven wickets in the Covid-delayed fifth Test at Edgbaston on Tuesday.

Set 378 to win, England finished on 378-3, with former captain Root 142 not out and Bairstow 114 not out -- his second hundred of the match after he made 106 in the hosts’ first-innings 284.

Victory saw England level this five-match series at 2-2.

No England side had previously made more to win in the fourth innings of a Test than 359, when now captain Ben Stokes’ brilliant century led them to a thrilling victory over Australia at Headingley three years ago.

But that record was overhauled with ease after England’s first series under a new leadership duo of Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum had seen them chase down seemingly stiff targets of 277, 299 and 296 during a 3-0 whitewash of Test world champions New Zealand.

“It’s great fun at the moment,” player of the match Bairstow told Sky Sports. “The last month has been a fantastic month of Test cricket for all the lads.”

Root was named England’s player of the series -- which started under his captaincy in 2021 -- after amassing a mammoth 737 runs, including four hundreds, at superlative average of over 105.

But he preferred to pay tribute to Bairstow, whom he has known since their school-days.

“He’s striking the ball so clean, he looks very calm and in control out there,” Root said.

“It’s great fun and it’s great to see someone I’ve known from being 12 years old, start to realise his true potential in this format of the game.”

England have now won all four Tests since Stokes succeeded Root as captain, with the all-rounder saying: “378 five-six weeks ago would have been scary, but it was good.”

- ‘Test cricket is never easy’ -

India stand-in captain Jasprit Bumrah, leading the side in place of the Covid-hit Rohit Sharma, was the tourists’ player of the series with 23 wickets at 22.47 -- a record for an Indian bowler during a Test campaign in England.

“Test cricket is never easy,” said the fast bowler. “We had three good days and we were a little short with the bat and we let the opposition in.”

England resumed on 259-3, needing just 119 more runs to win.

Root was 76 not out overnight and Bairstow unbeaten on 72 after the Yorkshire duo had come together at 109-3, with England having lost three wickets in quick succession either side of tea.

But their unbroken stand, built on largely orthodox if hard-hit strokeplay, was eventually worth 269.

As England sped towards a target they achieved inside 77 overs it was hard to believe that they had won just one of their preceding 17 Tests prior to the New Zealand series.

Root got to his hundred first when he late cut Mohammed Siraj for a 14th four in 136 balls for his third Test century of the season after two tons against New Zealand.

Bairstow’s scampering single off Ravindra Jadeja saw him to a 138-ball century, including 12 fours and a six.

Score Board

England won the toss

India 1st Innings 416

England 1st Innings 284

India 2nd Innings 245

England 2nd Innings Target: 378

Alex run out (Shami/Jadeja) 56

Crawley b Bumrah 46

Pope c Ü Pant b Bumrah 0

Joe Root not out 142

Jonny Bairstow not out 114

Extras: (b 8, lb 7, nb 2, w 3) 20

Total: 76.4 Ov (RR: 4.93) 378/3

Did not bat: Ben Stokes (c), Sam Billings Ü, Matthew Potts, Stuart Broad, Jack Leach, James Anderson

Fall: 1-107, 2-107, 3-109

Bowling: Jasprit Bumrah 17-1-74-2, Mohammed Shami 15-2-64-0, Ravindra Jadeja 18.4-3-62-0, Mohammed Siraj 15-0-98-0 Shardul Thakur 11-0-65-0

Player of the match: Jonny Bairstow

Player of the series: Joe Root

Match result: England won by 7 wickets

Umpires: Aleem Dar, Richard Kettleborough