ENG v IND, 5th Test: Root, Bairstow slam unbeaten fifties to lead England’s mammoth chase

Birmingham:- Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow slammed unbeaten fifties to lead England’s mammoth chase of 378 against India on day four of rescheduled fifth Test at Edgbaston on Monday. At stumps, the hosts’ are 259/3 in 57 overs, needing just 119 on a sold-out final day to level the five-match series being played for the Pataudi Trophy at 2-2.

On a day on which rain chose not to interrupt, England made merry as Root and Bairstow went back to the dressing room after making 76 off 110 balls and 73 off 89 deliveries respectively. Before this, on a pitch that had variable bounce and some turn for spinners, England took out the last seven Indian wickets for 120 runs, with Ben Stokes adding three more scalps, to bowl the visitors out for 245 in 81.5 overs.

Then, the effect of the heavy roller on the pitch was apparent by the terrific opening stand of 107 between Alex Lees (56) and Zak Crawley (46), before a ball change after 20.5 overs fetched India three wickets in as many overs. But Root and Bairstow’s unconquered stand of 150 meant the day belonged to the hosts.

India struck on the very first ball after tea as Bumrah enticed Ollie Pope to poke at a back-of-the-length ball coming in, which the batter did. But the ball held its line and took Pope’s outer edge behind to Pant, departing without troubling the scorers.

In the next over, Lees inside-edged off Ravindra Jadeja into the leg-side and had no idea where the ball had gone. With Root already running from the non-striker’s end, Lees ran belatedly and was run out easily at the non-striker’s end.

Bairstow got off the mark with a boundary through back-foot punch off Jadeja while Root survived lbw appeals off Jadeja and Shami as India lost two reviews in as many overs. The shift in gears came from the 37th over when Root reverse-swept and paddled Jadeja for a brace of boundaries.

Bairstow had a life at 14 when an outside edge off his blade burst through Hanuma Vihari’s hands at the second slip, with the ball flying towards the boundary rope. That set the tone for the counterattack from the duo — Root bringing the sweep and whips to reach his half-century in 71 balls.

Bairstow, on the other hand, found the gaps for boundaries through flicks, pulls and slices to reach his fifty with a brace through his square leg. He got another life at 39 when a faint edge on the flick didn’t stick into the gloves of a diving Pant.

After reaching his fifty, Bairstow carved Shami through backward point for a boundary before playing a fierce hook off Siraj for a six over fine leg to keep England in the hunt of chasing their highest successful score in Test cricket.

Brief scores: India 416 and 245 in 81.5 overs (Cheteshwar Pujara 66, Rishabh Pant 57; Ben Stokes 4-33, Matthew Potts 2-50) versus England 284 and 259/3 in 57 overs (Joe Root 76 not out, Jonny Bairstow 72; Jasprit Bumrah 2-53). England trail by 119 runs