Joe Root stamped his authority over the Indian bowling attack with a third masterful hundred in as many games, putting England in a dominant position on day two of the second Test here on Thursday.
Though India won at Lord’s, they were not able to trouble Root (121 off 165) and the England skipper extended his purple patch with his 23rd Test hundred and sixth of the year to take his team to a commanding 423 for eight at stumps on day two.
England now lead by 345 runs.
After openers Rory Burns (61 off 153) and Haseeb Hameed (68 off 195) gave England the start they were desperately looking for, Root and Dawid Malan (70 off 128) shared a brisk 139-run stand off 189 balls to pile misery on the Indians who were all out for 78 on day one.
Root as usual was a delight to watch, scoring runs at will and all around the wicket. His 14 boundaries included his trademark punch through the cover, which brought about his fifty before he flicked one between mid on and midwicket to get to three figures.
Such was the range on offer that he also swept and reverse swept left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja. Barring Mohammed Shami, the Indian pacers had another ordinary day and Root made them pay for their erratic line and length.
With his 23rd hundred, Root equalled Kevin Pietersen’s record and is now only behind Alastair Cook (33).
Jasprit Bumrah managed to get one past Root’s watertight defence late in the final session to end a memorable innings in front of his home crowd. India managed to pick five wickets in the session but the damage had already been done.
Malan, playing his first Test in three years, lent much needed solidity in an otherwise struggling line-up. With the confidence that the southpaw played, it didn’t seem that he was away from the five-day game for a long time. India find themselves thrown in at the deep end and will have to bat extremely well to first avoid an innings defeat and then save the game from there on. The pitch has dried out and Indian pacers failed to get purchase out of it for the second day running.
Earlier, runs came thick and fast for England in the afternoon session as India bowlers appeared toothless, both with old and new ball. The hosts added 116 runs in the session with Root and Malan collecting runs comfortably.
Against the run of play, Malan picked up a faint edge while trying to flick Mohammad Siraj at the stroke of tea.
Indian pacers, who scripted a memorable win at Lord’s, bowled too many boundary balls and the England duo was quick to put them away.
Root, who is in the form of his life, reached his 51st fifty off just 57 balls with a gorgeous back foot punch through the cover. Malan too played some delightful strokes and was brutal as well as elegant on the off-side. Besides the cover drives and rasping cut shots, he also effectively used the glide to third man region.
In the morning session, India struck twice but it was not enough to put England under pressure.
The home team managed to score 62 runs in the session, taking their first innings to score 182 for two having started the day at 120 for no loss. Shami, coming round the wicket, removed Rory Burns in the first hour of play with a ball that nipped back in sharply to hit the top of off-stump.
India got a much needed second wicket against the run of play when Ravindra Jadeja struck in his first over of the day with a beauty.
The left-arm spinner got one to straighten slightly from middle and off-stump to beat a well-set Hameed and kiss the bails for his first wicket of the series.
Ishant Sharma opened the bowling for India and like on Wednesday, did not look at his best and struggled to find the right line and length on the surface. England fast bowlers had bowled much fuller on day one.
The Indian attack, which relies on seam more than swing, was not able to extract much from the pitch. The accuracy, which England pacers displayed, was also missing.
Siraj bowled a couple of looseners in his first over which Malan duly cut to the deep backward point and third man respectively. The southpaw began with an elegant cover drive off Jasprit Bumrah before growing in confidence.