Joe Root continues his fine form
in 2021 with a stunning century on Day 1 of the first test against India in
Chennai. Root shared a 200 run partnership with Dom Sibley (87 of 286) to lead England
to 263-3 at stumps. After scoring 228 and 186 in the two tests in Sri Lanka,
Root continued his purple patch by scoring 128* off 197 balls to reach his 20th
Test Match 100. The England captain was playing his 100th Test Match and became
the 9th player to reach triple figures on this momentous occasion. Other
players holding this record include Javed Miandad, Gordon Greenidge, Inzamam
ul-Haq, Ricky Ponting, Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla.
This was Roots 2nd century on
Indian soil, and the England captain has a fantastic record in India, with
seven 50+ scores in seven Tests in the subcontinent.
Root’s century topped off a fine
day’s play for England. The visitors won the toss and chose to bat on a flat
Chennai pitch. The two openers Rory Burns and Dom Sibley got off to an
excellent start in the first session, racking up the highest opening
partnership by an away side in India since 2017. India clawed back on the brink
of lunch, picking up two quick wickets. Ashwin got Burns out cheaply as he was
tried to reverse sweep a ball that didn’t turn. Dan Lawrence – the man promoted
to number 3 in the absence of Jonny Bairstow – followed soon after as he
misread a Bumrah inswinger.
Root and Sibley, however,
steadied the ship post-lunch, weathering a period of intense pressure from
India’s three main bowlers Ashwin, Bumrah and Ishant. The England captain only
scored 11 runs off his first 50 balls, before cashing in against the
inexperienced pair of Washington Sundar and Shahbaz Nadeem, both only playing
their second Test match. Root continued his onslaught in the final session and
picked up the tempo to score 111 runs of the last 137 balls, despite fighting
cramp due to the crippling humidity.
The only silver lining for the
hosts is that they managed to pull one back in the last over of the day, with
Bumrah trapping Sibley at the crease with a well-directed yorker. England ended
the day at 263-3 with a lot of batting still to come in the form of Stokes,
Buttler and Pope.
For India, it was a hard day’s
slog in the heat and humidity of Chennai. The pitch did not offer much to the
bowlers as it had very little seam, swing or pace. Nevertheless, the trio of
Ishant, Ashwin and Bumrah bowled with significant control and offered very
little to the batsman, with combined figures of 135-12 in 57 overs. In
comparison, India was let down by their 4th and 5th bowlers Nadeem and Sundar
who conceded 129 runs in 32 overs between themselves.