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ENG vs IND 3rd Test: Root toys with India as England amass massive lead

Joe Root’s incredible 2021 continued as the England captain reeled off his sixth century of the year and the third of the series on Day Two of the third Test against India on Thursday. Ably-assisted by Dawid Malan, Root’s ton powered England to 423/8 with a mammoth lead of 345 runs at the close of the day’s play.

The visitors already had their backs to the wall after collapsing for a paltry 78 in the first innings aand Root’s England just piled on the misery to the Indian bowlers on the second day of the third Test match. On a day when England mourned the death of former captain Ted Dexter, one of their most stylish batsmen, at the age of 86, Root’s 23rd Test century featured several textbook shots that would have met with the approval of ‘Lord Ted’.

With openers Rory Burns (61) and Haseeb Hameed (68), as well as recalled one-down batsman Dawid Malan (70) making half-centuries, this was the first time all of England’s top four had made a fifty in the same Test innings since a match against New Zealand at Dunedin in 2013.

Here are the talking points from Day 2 of the third Test match between India and England.

Roots century adds agony to Indian bowlers

Such has been the Yorkshireman’s supremacy with the bat since turning 30 in December that he has churned out knocks of 228 and 186 on rank turners in Galle and 218 against India at Chepauk earlier this year. In the first Test of this series, Root hit a match-saving 109 at Trent Bridge and followed up with a 180 at Lord’s in the second Test.

Thursday saw Root walk into bat with England well-placed at 159-2. Root looked in excellent touch when guiding Shami for two fours in three balls behind square on the offside. And after India took the new ball, the English skipper went to fifty in style with a back-foot forcing shot off Shami through point for four — his seventh boundary in 57 balls faced.

In front of a crowd of 16,721 that included his parents, Root looked in complete control as he completed his hundred in just 124 balls when he clipped the tiring Ishant Sharma to the midwicket boundary for his 12th four. Having appeared to be suffering from cramp, the skipper was eventually bowled trying to drive Bumrah.

He, however, received a rapturous reception from the Headingley faithful as he walked back into the pavilion, with only Alastair Cook (33), Root’s predecessor as captain, having made more Test centuries for England.

First Test in three years, Malan doesn’t look out of place

Indian bowlers worked really hard and asked a lot of questions but didn’t get much help from the wicket, which changed massively since the opening day, Englishman Dawid Malan said after the day’s play.

Malan, playing his first Test in three years, hit a splendid 70 and added 139 runs for the third wicket with skipper Joe Root as England took a massive lead of 345. “The wicket changed massively from the first day to the first hour when they were batting,” the 33-year-old told the media after stumps. “I would not say they were flat with their bowling. They absolutely ran in and tried their socks off. They asked a lot of questions and probably didn’t get that much help from the wicket,” the left-hander said.

Malan was also in praise of his skipper. “He scores runs all the time, and with the ease and the speed with which he does it is quite fantastic. He has led from the front again as he has done in the Test series so far, all credit goes to him,” he added.

Lackluster Indian bowling miss the trick

India pacer Mohammed Shami said India’s performance in the third Test match so far hasn’t affected the players’ morale much, as there is still a lot of time left in the series. “No, my friend, mentally (it does not affect), we have finished matches in three days, many matches we have finished in two days. Sometimes when we have a bad day or we get out early in a Test match in the first innings and we have to field for long,” the 30-year-old pacer told the press after the day’s play.

“It happens sometimes, but there is no need to feel low, because still there are two Tests left,” Shami said, when asked how such a day affects the team mentally in the middle of the series.

The Bengal speedster, who returned with figures of 3/87, along with all Indian bowlers, including Ravindra Jadeja (2/88), Jasprit Bumrah (1/58) and Mohammed Siraj (2/86) were taken to task by Root and company on Thursday, with Ishant Sharma, who returned wicketless looking the most lacklustre among them.

English middle order woes remain

Even though skipper Joe Root massacred Indian bowlers after getting a well-set plank to build on his innings, courtesy the century opening stand between Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed, the English middle-order looked tentative in the middle. With the fall of Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow walked out to bat with Root.

Bairstow, though managing 29 runs in his 43-ball knock, looked uncomfortable against the pace and swing of Shami and soon dolloped an easy catch to Virat Kohli. Next walked in Jos Buttler, who played a stoic knock in the last test trying to delay the inevitable Indian win. On Wednesday, however, Buttler never felt at ease and his 12-ball knock for seven runs was interrupted by another Shami blinder, this time giving a catch to Ishant Sharma.

The next two batsmen, Moeen Ali and Sam Curran, too perished cheaply with four English wickets falling for just 23 runs. England needs to find an answer for their middle-order woes or else, it might just be too little, too late for them.

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