Birmingham: This was an England performance to savour, not just for the comfortable 7-wicket win in the carried-over fifth Test to level the series of 2021, but for the wonderful exhibition of batting by Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow in an unbroken fourth wicket partnership worth 269 runs.
Root, with 142, remained unbeaten with his 28th Test hundred and Bairstow’s 114 not out was his 12th Test hundred and the second of this match. Appropriately, he was man-of-the-match for his extraordinary feat.
England resumed their second innings on the fifth morning on 259 for three and looking for a further 119 to win. After their spirited batting of the previous day, it seemed the required runs would be quite attainable in the first session if their scoring tempo was maintained. Indeed, it was achieved in an hour-and-a-half’s play.
Root with 76 overnight and Bairstow on 72 did begin in much the same vein, particularly Bairstow, despite the bowlers achieving considerable movement under cloud cover. One ball in particular from Mohammad Siraj surprised Root as it nipped back into him from outside off stump and rapping the pad but probably missing leg.
Bairstow took two consecutive fours from Mohammad Shami’s first over. The first was a lovely square drive to point and then another to backward point. Thirty runs came from the first five overs, 19 of them to Bairstow taking him into the nineties. Root’s first four was exquisitely struck bending on one knee for the drive to cover and England’s 300 was up in the 65th over as Root ran two to point and then a single took him too into the nineties.
The balls were causing a problem with two ball changes having to be made in the first 40 minutes of play. But that did not stop the rate of scoring as the two batsmen brought up the two hundred of their stand from 249 balls with a second successive four struck by Root, off Jasprit Bumrah, which took him to 98.
His hundred came in the following over with an edged four, his fourteenth from 136 balls, it flew over second slip. Bairstow slowed down his scoring in the nineties, playing no risky shots as he got nearer the chance of a second century in the same Test.
It finally came when he dabbed a ball from Ravindra Jadeja to square leg, celebrating his achievement with a jump and his arms aloft. He had faced 138 balls, twelve of which were hit for four and a six. He promptly hit two fours, the second of which a powerful straight drive of Siraj.
Root meanwhile, having already reached his century was playing his shots freely which, by the end had given him 19 fours and a reverse swept six. Both batsmen had totally dominated the play making the bowling look quite innocuous. They gave a superb display of attractive strokes, powerful hitting as well as perfect understanding of running between the wickets.
The scores were tied at 377 for three in 76.2 overs as Root reverse swept Jadeja for four and two balls later another reverse sweep to cover for a single completed the wonderful run chase, the highest ever in history for England to win a Test.
India first innings: 416
England first innings: 284
India second Innings: 245
England second Innings (O/n: 259/3):
A Lees (run out)56
Z Crawley b Bumrah46
O Pope c Pant b Bumrah0
J Root (not out)142
J Bairstow (not out)114
Extras (B-8, LB-7, NB-2, W-3)20
Total (For 3 wkts, 76.4 overs)378
Fall of wickets: 1-107, 2-107, 3-109
Bowling: Bumrah 17-1-74-2, Shami 15-2-64-0, Jadeja 18.4-3-62-0, Siraj 15-0-98-0, Thakur 11-0-65-0