England pull off record chase to level series against India

Published July 5, 2022
<p>England’s Joe Root celebrates reaching his century. — Reuters</p>

England’s Joe Root celebrates reaching his century. — Reuters

England rode unbeaten hundreds by Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow to pull off their highest successful chase, coasting to a series-levelling seven-wicket victory in the rearranged fifth test against India at Edgbaston on Tuesday.

Chasing 378 for victory, England went into the final day needing 119 runs with seven wickets in hand.

Root went on to smash a masterly 142 not out, his 28th test century, forging a mammoth 269-run partnership for the unbroken fourth wicket with Bairstow.

Root's elegant hundred was studded with 19 boundaries and a six.

Bairstow's unbeaten 114, which included 15 fours and a six, was his second hundred of the match as England triumphed with two sessions to spare.

England's previous highest successful run chase came in 2019 when they reached a 359-run target in an Ashes test against Australia on the back of Stokes's brilliant unbeaten century.

It was a tremendous turnaround by England who had been on the back foot after conceding a significant first-innings lead of 132.

Root and Bairstow showed the kind of sustained aggression which is quickly becoming the hallmark of this England test team since Brendon McCullum took over as the head coach and Ben Stokes assumed captaincy.

Root grew so much in confidence that he treated Shardul Thakur like a spinner, stepping out against the seamer and then playing an audacious reverse-scoop against him that sailed over for a six.

Bairstow brought up his fourth hundred in five innings with a tight single before hitting Mohammed Siraj for three successive boundaries.

Pundits slam 'timid' India

Meanwhile, cricketers and pundits slammed India's batting as England batsmen Bairstow and Root hit hundreds to thrash the tourists.

“Special win by England to level the series. Joe Root & Jonny Bairstow have been in sublime form and made batting look very easy,” batting great Sachin Tendulkar wrote on Twitter.

“Congratulations to England on a convincing victory.” Veteran commentator Harsha Bhogle hit out at India.

“The 8th largest run-chase in history has been a stroll in the park. Bat hasn't faced a challenge from the ball for the last 200 runs,” he tweeted.

Former India fast bowler Irfan Pathan tweeted: “This victory of team England should hurt Team India. That was too easy.”

Former coach Ravi Shastri hit out at the batsmen for their defensive approach.

“They needed to bat two sessions and I thought they were defensive, they were timid today, especially after lunch,” Shastri, who was coach when India led the series 2-1 last year, said after Monday's day four.

“Even after they had lost those wickets, they could have taken some chances. Runs were important at that stage of the game and I thought they just went into a shell, lost those wickets too quickly, and gave enough time for England to bat today.”

Former India cricketer Virender Sehwag said India needed to do some thinking after the loss.

“India have quite a few issues to address, only Pujara & Pant from the top 6 scoring runs and Jadeja batting brilliantly, but need batsman to be in form,” Sehwag tweeted.

“Bowling in the fourth innings was absolutely listless,” the former opening batsman said.

The five-match series against India could not be completed last year following Covid-19 cases in the India camp ahead of the final match at Old Trafford.

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