Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow set England on course for a groundbreaking chase against India, despite Jasprit Bumrah’s brilliance on day four of the rescheduled fifth Test, and set up a fitting series final in Birmingham on Monday. Skipper Bumrah brought India back into the game with wickets on either side of the lunch break after England openers Alex Lees (56 out of 65) and Zak Crawley (46 out of 76) finally found form, splitting a 107-point tie, chasing a record of 378 goal runs. From 107/0 it quickly became 109 for three before the dangerous duo Root (76 strikes out of 112) and Bairstow (72 strikes out of 87) frustrated the Indians with an impressive 150-run partnership of just 197 balls.
England were 259 for three at punches on day four, needing a very achievable 119 runs for a series leveling win.
While the wicket didn’t help much, Indian bowlers were unable to keep pressure on the English batters who played with the aggression that has become a hallmark of Ben Stokes-Brendon McCullum’s cricket school.
It also helped that India used a very defensively dispersed field, allowing English batters to alternate the battle with fervor.
Bairstow, who is in the shape of his life, was dropped at 14 by Hanuma Vihari and he made India pay dearly for it.
With Ben Stokes and Sam Billing still to come, India needs something special to win from here. India’s bowling performance in the second innings was reminiscent of their struggle in South Africa, where they failed to defend the goal twice after winning the series opener.
India could have left England chasing over 400 on day five had it not been for a poor shot selection. After starting the day with 125 for three, India was eliminated altogether for 245 in the second innings.
India had little to offer in the final session except for the first two overs. Bumrah was hot on Ollie Pope before Lees ran out after Root wanted to grab a single that wasn’t up for grabs.
Then it was Root and Bairstow’s show, as they scored at will.
Fired England openers Lees and Crawley had also shown plenty of positive intentions to take England to 107 for one at tea. India managed to break through towards the end of the session when Bumrah cleared out Zak Crawley (46 of 76), who misjudged a leave of absence, when a delivery of length snapped in.
India could only consume 8.5 overs after lunch. No tail wagging compared to the first innings, but specialized batters giving away their wickets prevented India from taking a more than 400 lead.
England, chasing a record goal, came forward with all weapons and raced to 53 without a loss in nine overs, with Read collecting two fours from Ravindra Jadeja in his first-ever over. He stepped out of the fold to hit the first half way, while the second came out of a reverse sweep.
Crawley got going with a quick move to Jasprit Bumrah’s square leg for a sharp straight ride from Mohammad Shami.
Lees reached his second Test fifty in the following with a stylish rear foot punch from Mohammad Siraj.
Siraj resorted to bowling with a scrambled seam, but that didn’t inconvenience the openers either.
Previously, India gave England easy wickets, but Rishabh Pant’s half-century allowed them to extend their lead to 361 runs in the lunch session.
Overnight batters Cheteshwar Pujara (66 of 168) and Pant (57 of 86) got off to a confident start.
Pujara got going with a back punch and a swipe from James Anderson for consecutive limits.
Pujara, who had reached the 50 point mark on Sunday, was hardly bothered by the English pacers. Pant and Pujara’s job was made easier as Ben Stokes gave three overs to part-timer Joe Root after the game started.
However, the Saurashtra batter contributed to his own demise by clipping a short and wide ball from Stuart Broad straight back. It’s his pet shot, but couldn’t hold it down for a change.
Shreyas Iyer (19 of 26) joined Pant in the middle and fell for short again after a few shots. England set the trap for Iyer and he fell straight into it by pulling a short ball straight to the center of the wicket.
Pant completed his fifties with a tickle of the pads and became the first Indian wicket-keeper to score a hundred and a half centuries in an overseas Test.
After swiping Jack Leach for a boundary, Pant went into the next for a reverse pull, but was caught on the first slip by Joe Root, leaving India at 198 for six.
Topics mentioned in this article