Root puts England on top
No. 3 is first visiting batsman to score a ton in India since 2013
I t was a day of historic landmarks in Gujarat, as Rajkot became India’s 23rd Test venue and played host to the opening game of the first five-match Test series being played in India since 1987.
But it was England who ended the day on top thanks to the brilliance of Joe Root and Moeen Ali.
Having breathed a sigh of relief that the pitch was nothing like the dust bowls they found in Bangladesh, England ended the day in a strong position at 311-4 thanks in large to a 179-run fourth wicket stand between Root and Ali.
Root kept the scoreboard moving as he converted his 13th fifty of the season into a century, becoming the first visiting batsman to score a century in India since Michael Clarke in February 2013.
Ali also excelled as he ended the day just one run short of his ton.
“Moeen played extremely well,” said Root.
“He is still there and hopefully I can look forward to watching him bat all day as well. We’re in a good position now moving forward to the rest of the game.”
Earlier, both of England’s openers got a slice of luck that they were unable to capitalise on as Alastair Cook, who was dropped twice, fell for 21 and debutant Haseeb Hameed made 31 on his debut after being dropped by Mohammed Shami. To add insult to India’s sloppy fielding their reverse-swing expert Shami pulled up with a hamstring strain and went off the field temporarily, only to return later, but with a noticeably cautious approach to the crease and reduced pace. In the session after lunch England started to dominate and both batsmen stepped out of the crease and used a much wider range of strokes to good effect.
Root looked set for another one of his marathon innings but against the run of play Umesh Yadav was quick to latch on to a drive direct back at him off his own bowling. He juggled the ball before throwing it in celebration, with umpire Kumar Dharmasena eventually deciding heds held it for long enough and Root had to walk back after making 124 from 180.
“I was just disgusted with the shot I played. You get that decision, and you see the slow motion on the screen and you just have to accept it,” added Root.
Meanwhile, there was a landmark for Ben Stokes who made his first Test runs against India as he came on in the final session of the day. His previous scores against the hosts were 0, 0 and 0 in his three Tests.
Day two of the action gets under way at 8am UAE time.