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India vs England 2nd Test, Day 3: Red Hot Root Helps England Edge Ahead At Lord’s

England captain Joe Root smashed an unbeaten 180 for his second century of the series to help his team eclipse India’s first innings total of 364 on Day Three of the second Test on Saturday.

The Englishmen were all out for 391, taking a slender 27-run first innings lead, riding on Root’s majestic knock on an entertaining day of test cricket at Lord’s. The 30-year-old became the second English batsman after Sir Alastair Cook to score 9,000 Test runs. It was a significant turnaround for England who were reeling on 23/2 when Root walked out to bat on Friday. For India, Mohammed Siraj (4/94) was the pick of the bowlers as he grabbed four wickets for 94 runs on a day when the visitors didn’t find much from the wicket. Ishant Sharma, too, bowled well in sporadic passages taking 3/69, and helped India claw back the advantage from England, with only two days left in the Test match.

Here are the talking points from Day 3 of the 2nd Test match between India and England

Flawless skipper Root’s knock one for the ages

England captain Joe Root’s commanding 180 not out, his second successive Test hundred, guided the hosts to a slender first-innings lead against India at Lord’s on Saturday. Root’s near nine-hour innings was the cornerstone of England’s 391 that set them 27 runs ahead of India’s first-innings 364.

The skipper faced 321 balls, which included 18 boundaries. This was Root’s fifth Test century this year, with scores of 228 and 186 in Sri Lanka and 218 against India in Chennai preceding last week’s effort in Nottingham. His 22nd Test hundred saw Root equal Walter Hammond, Colin Cowdrey, Geoffrey Boycott and Ian Bell, with only Kevin Pietersen (23) and Alastair Cook (33) having scored more Test centuries for England.

Bairstow finds some resemblance of form

Joe Root had been the only English batsman to pass fifty in the rain-marred drawn first Test of this five-match series at Trent Bridge last week with innings of 64 and 109. On Saturday, however, he was ably assisted in a fourth-wicket partnership of 121 by Jonny Bairstow until his Yorkshire team-mate gave his innings away on 57.

England started the day on 119-3, a deficit of 245, and were again left looking to Root (48*) overnight, after opener Rory Burns had fallen for a well-made 49. Bairstow, who started the day on six not out, struck commanding straight-driven fours off Mohammed Shami and Siraj en route to a 90-ball fifty.

England were 216-3 at lunch, having not lost a wicket in the morning session, with Root on 89 not out and Bairstow unbeaten on 51. But just before India took the new ball, Bairstow carelessly fell into an obvious hooking trap when, finally tempted by one of several short-pitched deliveries from Siraj, he gloved a pull to India captain Virat Kohli in the slips.

What’s with Indian bowlers and no balls?

If at all India could have avoided bowling 17 no balls in the first innings, the English lead could have been curtailed. But it was not to be, with the majority of no balls bowled coming from Jasprit Bumrah’s kitty, including three in one over. Overall, he sent down 13 no balls and India’s 128 overs of bowling in the first innings was also the longest that the hosts have bowled in an away series in a long-long time.

Unfavourable pitch conditions to blame?

On a placid pitch and a sunny day ideal for batting, the 30-year-old Root and Bairstow grounded Indian bowlers with some very-disciplined batting to knock the sails out of the Indian team. In fact, the first session of the day went wicket-less for the visitors, prompting cricket experts to quip that the pitch at Lord’s seemed more like the deck at Chennai or Kolkata, and not the seaming condition that England is known for. Indian bowlers had to work hard to get the extra bounce and carry and it took all their might to dismiss the hosts with a slender lead right at the end of the day’s play.

Indian bowlers toil hard for wickets

Mohammed Siraj (30-7-94-4) had the most number of wickets in the first innings, but bowled way too many boundary balls in that first session, along with Mohammed Shami — two wickets for 94 runs — who would like to forget this innings in a hurry. The old workhorse, Ishant Sharma, with three wickets for 69 runs, once again did his part but at times looked tired in his later spells although the in-cutter that cleaned up Jos Buttler (23) would be any pacer’s dream.

Also, Kohli’s decision to not start the day with Ishant or Bumrah first-up didn’t help the cause as runs leaked easily in the form of cover and square drives and along with the whip through the mid-wicket region. After a wicket-less first session, India did enjoy some good moments when Siraj got Bairstow with a bumper and Ishant bowled Buttler.

All to play for

With two days left in the game, and with England’s lead a mere 27 runs, the game is very much open and can swing both ways. More than the quantum of lead, it is the psychological advantage that England gained after a poor first day, which will put them in good stead as their bowlers would go flat out to dismiss the low-on-confidence Indian middle-order cheaply on the fourth day. 

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