Kolkata: Joe Root, the England captain, helped the visitors throw the gauntlet to a buoyant Indian team after their recent conquest of Australia - if the first day’s play of first Test in Chennai is any indication on Friday.
“It’s an unusual looking surface but it played pretty well... I was just trying to get used to the surface, get used to the bounce. And as I got in, I found it easier. The longer you are in, the easier it becomes. It was about trying to build a partnership and take it as deep as we could into the day,” said Root after his unbeaten 128 after first day’s play helped England take the first step towards piling up a decent total and put the pressure on Virat Kohli’s men.
Root had to fight cramps towards the end of the day at the end of which England, who were going well are 263 for three with a 200-run partnership, lost the wicket of Dom Sibley in the final over of the day.
“I need to get some fluids into me, was cramping towards the end. We need to make sure tomorrow that we make use of a strong first day... It was a good contest and India have some good bowlers, made us work hard for our runs. It is a good first day but we know we have to back it up with something similar,” added Root.
The England captain said that getting a century in the 100th Test is special. “To get a hundred in my 100th Test is special but I hope there is more to come tomorrow and it helps to put up a substantial first innings total. I don’t think I took enough fluids today. Got to make up for it, eat and rest well tonight,” said Root.
Root won an important toss and unsurprisingly elected to bat, avoiding the potentially tricky task of batting in the fourth innings on a crumbling wicket. They got off to a steady start with a 63-run stand between Sibley and Rory Burns but faltered ahead of the lunch break.
Burns made 33 before attempting a reckless reverse-sweep against Ravichandran Ashwin and offering a simple catch to Rishabh Pant. Jasprit Bumrah then trapped Dan Lawrence lbw for a duck but Root and Sibley denied India a wicket in the steady second session. Much as unbelievable as it is, this was the Indian pace ace’s first Test wicket on home soil as all of his 79 wickets in this format have come from 17 overseas Tests.
Root survived an early run-out chance and the lack of carry in the wicket meant a couple of edges fell short of the fielders behind the stumps. His battle against Ashwin could provide one of the sub-plots of the series and the England captain took a single off the spinner to bring up his 20th hundred.
Root jumped in celebration while India counterpart Virat Kohli clapped. Time will tell if a Root versus Kohli battle for the best batsman’s mantle could be the other sub-plot in the series - and a bigger one!
England (First innings)
R. Burns c Pant b Ashwin 33
D. Sibley lbw b Bumrah 87
D. Lawrence lbw b Bumrah 0
J. Root not out 128
Extras (lb4, nb11) 15
Total (89.3overs, 3 wickets) 263
Fall of wickets: 1-63 (Burns), 2-63 (Lawrence), 3-263 (Sibley)
Bowling: Sharma 15-3-27-0 (nb4), Bumrah 18.3-2-40-2 (nb3), Ashwin, 24-2-68-1, Nadeem 20-3-69-0 (nb4), Sundar 12-0-55-0
Umpires: Anil Chaudhary (IND) and Nitin Menon (IND)
TV umpire: Chettithody Shamshuddin (IND)
Match referee: Javagal Srinath (IND)