A 20th Test century by England captain Joe Root and his 200-run partnership for the third-wicket with opener Dominic Sibley (87) powered the visitors to a strong position of 263/3 in 89.3 overs at stumps on Day One of first Test against India in Chennai. Root remained unbeaten on 128 off 197 balls with 14 fours and a six.
England lost their third wicket in the last over of the opening day’s play with Jasprit Bumrah trapping Sibley in front with a searing yorker. Sibley’s marathon innings lasted 286 balls and was studded with 12 fours.
Bumrah ended up with two wickets in his maiden appearance in a Test match on Indian soil, finishing with 2/40 in 18.3 overs. Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was the only other wicket-taker, scalping 1/68 in 24 overs.
The day, however, belonged to the England skipper Root who notched up his third hundred in three Tests in 2021. Root followed up scores of 228 and 186 against Sri Lanka in the last two Tests with his chanceless century against India in this his 100th Test.
In the process, he became the 10th batsman to score a century in his 100th Test and the third Englishman after Colin Cowdrey and Alec Stewart.
Earlier, Root joined hands with opener Dominic Sibley to lead England's recovery as they reached a comfortable 140 for two at tea. Root, playing his 100th Test, was batting on 45 and Sibley on 53 when the break was taken at the MA Chidambaram stadium. They have put on 77 runs for the unbeaten third wicket so far, defying the Indian attack with ease.
While Sibley was all patience and waited for the bad deliveries to score runs, Root underlined his class with some superb shots as the two went about shoring up the innings.
Pacers Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah and the spin trio of Ravichandran Ashwin, Shahbaz Nadeem and Washington Sundar tried every trick possible but could not break British batsmen’s resolve.
Ishant, along with Bumrah, bowled exceptionally well in the second session but that was not enough. Bumrah and off-spinner Ashwin (1/52) picked up one wicket each just before lunch to leave England at 67 for two.
Openers Sibley and Rory Burns provided England a solid start with a 63-run partnership during which they did not appear to be in too much trouble.
After negotiating the pace duo of Ishant Sharma and Bumrah, they kept Ashwin and left-arm spinner Nadeem at bay, showing patience and also playing shots whenever they sniffed an opportunity.
Bumrah, playing his first Test at home, saw Pant grass Burns off the first delivery which the batsman tried to glance.
The openers appeared to be making a steady progress before Burns unnecessarily went for a reverse sweep off Ashwin and saw the ball lob to 'keeper Rishab Pant for an easy catch.
Newcomer Dan Lawrence was sent back by Bumrah with a beauty which tailed in sharply, catching the batsman plumb in-front. India captain Virat Kohli introduced Ashwin into the attack in the eighth over in a bid to get an early breakthrough.
Sibley and Burns played sensibly and showed patience to deny India any early inroads.
(with PTI inputs)