Kolkata: The second day of the first Test match between India and England was all about Joe Root again. The England captain, who got an attack of cramps on Day I and promised to come back hydrated enough, showed no signs of tiring as he batted the hosts out of the game before falling for a masterly 218 at the M.A.Chidambaram Stadium - his fifth double century in a nine-year career.
It was a day when the frail Yorkshireman must have sent the statistics-loving English fans scurrying for the record books again. He is now owner of second highest number of double-centuries among the Englishmen with Wally Hammond on seven, while Root’s first captain Alastair Cook also had the same number of centuries as him (five). He also overtook Alec Stewart as the third highest scorer for England and if the nature of the wicket is anything to go by for the rest of the series, the Indian bowlers could be in for a long haul in the remaining three Tests as well.
Celebrating his 100th Test in style, Root reached the milestone off 341 deliveries shortly before the tea break. His wicket was the sixth one to fall, leg before to the persevering Shahbaz Nadeem soon after tea, but England were well on the way for a 500-plus total. They ended the day at a mammoth 555 for eight at stumps.
Root, who has already atoned for a somewhat below-par 2020 with an aggregate of 644 runs from three Tests of the year, also became the first visiting batsman to score a double hundred in Tests in India since New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum in 2010 (Hyderabad). The former New Zealand captain, incidentally, was also the last batsman to notch up a double-century against India in Tests when he hit 302 in the second innings of the Wellington Test in 2013-14.
The intent was quite clear on the part of Root and No.5 Ben Stokes, who plundered 92 runs to push India on the backfoot. England looked to up the scoring rate after lunch and drive home their advantage. Stokes opened up to play some attacking shots, before he was finally caught in the deep off Shahbaz Nadeem after scoring a brisk 88. It was a welcome breakthrough for the Indian bowling attack struggling on an unhelpful pitch.
Root and Ollie Pope then put on an unbeaten 67-run stand for the fifth wicket. The latter looked comfortable at the crease even as India had a caught behind DRS appeal off Ravichandran Ashwin (1-114) turned down against him.
England crossed 450 shortly before tea and looked set for a mammoth total.
Incidentally, Root’s 218 was also the highest Test score by a visiting batsman at Chepauk, The previous record of 210 was held by the deceased Dean Jones - in the famous tied Test in 1986.Root’s feat was only the fifth by a visiting batsman at the venue and the first in nearly 20 years since Matthew Hayden’s 203.
England (1st innings, overnight 263-3)
J. Root lbw b Nadeem 218
B. Stokes c Pujara b Nadeem 82
O. Pope lbw b Ashwin 34
J. Buttler b Sharma 30
D. Bess not out 28
J. Archer b Sharma 0
J. Leach not out 6
Extras (b2, lb16, nb19) 37
Total (180 overs, 8 wickets) 555
Fall of wickets: 1-63 (Burns), 2-63 (Lawrence), 3-263 (Sibley), 4-387 (Stokes), 5-473 (Pope), 6-477 (Root), 7-525 (Buttler), 8-525 (Archer)
Bowling: Sharma 27-7-52-2 (nb5), Bumrah 31-4-81-2 (nb6), Ashwin, 50-5-132-2 (nb2), Nadeem 44-4-167-2 (nb6), Sundar 26-2-98-0, R. Sharma 2-0-7-0