Cricket super Test duel - 'Masterful' Root rescues England with an unbeaten 106 after early wickets


England's Joe Root plays a shot during the first day of the fourth Test cricket match between India and England at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) Stadium in Ranchi on Friday, February 23, 2024. - AFP

RANCHI, India (AFP): Joe Root hit an unbeaten 106 to lead England's recovery from early trouble after Indian fast bowler Akash Deep took three wickets on debut in the fourth Test on Friday.

England, who are fighting to stay alive at 2-1 down in the five-match series, reached stumps at 302-7 after electing to bat first in Ranchi.

The tourists slipped to 112-5 but Root, with just 77 runs over his previous six innings, found his form to put on a 113-run stand with wicketkeeper-batsman Ben Foakes, who made 47.

Mohammed Siraj broke the partnership with the wicket of Foakes but former captain Root stood firm and had Ollie Robinson, on 31, for company in an unbeaten stand of 57 at the close of play.

Opener Zak Crawley described Root's spell at the crease as "unbelievable".

We fully expected him to get a good score at some point in this series," he said. "He was due, he's the best player we've ever had and he played phenomenally today."

Root's 31st Test ton came after a torrent of criticism for throwing away his wicket off a reverse scoop as England lost the third Test.

The veteran batsman reached his hundred with a boundary off Deep and then took off his helmet and raised his bat to a standing ovation from the England players and fans.

Root and Foakes kept calm in an uncharacteristically patient show of batting by England, a temporary departure from their attacking "Bazball" style, which denied India a wicket in the afternoon session.

Siraj was brought back into the attack after tea and the pace spearhead swung the ball to get Foakes caught at mid-wicket before bowling Tom Hartley for 13.

Root ploughed on with just nine boundaries in his 226-ball stay to give his team a much-needed boost on a cracked pitch expected to turn more.

"A really good day for England and a masterful hundred from England's best player in Joe Root," former captain Michael Vaughan told TNT Sports.

"This was the day England played the situation perfectly."

- Deep trouble -

The 27-year-old Deep shone as a replacement for Jasprit Bumrah, who has been rested, and had a scintillating start after getting his first Test cap from coach Rahul Dravid.

"I wasn't nervous, had spoken with my coaches, so I wasn't tense ahead of the game," Deep, who received his cap in the morning with his mother on the sidelines, said on TV.

"Brother Bumrah advised me to drag the length back slightly, that's exactly what I did."

Deep thought he had got Crawley on four only to overstep the crease for a no-ball.

Crawley, who went on to make 42, counter-attacked and hammered Siraj for four straight boundaries, including three fours and a six.

Deep, who hails from a small village in Bihar and plays domestic cricket for neighbouring state side Bengal, got his first international wicket when Ben Duckett was caught behind for 11.

He struck again two balls later to trap Ollie Pope lbw for a duck, a decision denied by the on-field umpire but successfully reviewed by India after the tracker showed the ball would have hit the top of leg stump.

Deep then bowled Crawley with another beauty that darted in to the opener and rattled the stumps, as England slipped to 57-3 in only the first hour of play.

Root and Jonny Bairstow put together 52 runs before Ravichandran Ashwin had Bairstow lbw on 38 in another successful Indian review.

Skipper Ben Stokes was trapped lbw by Ravindra Jadeja for three on the stroke of lunch to leave England in serious trouble. - AFP

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Test Cricket , India , England , Joe Root , Super Display

   

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