The third day of the Lord’s Test was a moving one in every sense, with Joe Root registering his second hundred of the series, before Ishant Sharma’s timely strikes brought India back into the game. The hosts were dismissed for 391 at the close of play, 27 ahead of India in their first innings.
Root’s glorious 2021 juggernaut rolls on
After three game-defining hundreds at the start of the year, including two doubles, Joe Root is on the way to make the home summer his own, carrying the his side's batting with great distinction. A sublime hundred in the first Test at Trent Bridge was followed by an even more significant one at Lord’s, his fourth at the venue, to take his side into the lead.
The Nottingham hundred, which was followed by a first-innings 64, was a masterclass weaved around an uncertain batting order under tough batting conditions. The surface at Lord’s was relatively easier, the cover drives weren’t as frequent as they were at Trent Bridge, there was more support from the rest around him and yet, there was an added charm to the show. The skipper carried on from his overnight score of 48, which had come after he’d walked in at 23/2, to showcase batsmanship of the highest order on an absorbing day of Test cricket. Against an experienced Indian seam bowling attack, Root displayed exemplary technical proficiency, while pouncing on anything loose to add to the visitors’ frustration. The late cuts - fierce at times, deft otherwise, the fluent leg glances and firm drives made up for a fascinating package.
Joe Root has faced 300+ deliveries in a Test innings on seven occasions. Four of them have been in 2021. #ENGvIND— The CricViz Analyst (@cricvizanalyst) August 14, 2021
During his 321-ball 180*, Root crossed several batting milestones to round off a memorable day. Having surpassed Graham Gooch’s tally of 8,900 runs on Friday, the Yorkshireman further went on to breach the 9,000-run mark and now only sits second behind Sir Alastair Cook. He became the seventh cricketer to aggregate 2,000 runs or more against India - a list featuring yesteryear greats like Clive Lloyd, Javed Miandad, Ricky Ponting and Cook. No other England batsman has scored more Test hundreds in a calendar year than his five.
Ishant redeems himself
India’s most experienced quick had a tough beginning on Day 2 at Lord’s, which, rather surprisingly, prompted a few questions surfacing over his selection. However, as has been the theme of his Test career so far, Ishant redeemed himself after a tough grind, to bring his side back into the contest.
The Ishant methodology in five-day cricket has always been to set a batsman up with consistent pitching to induce a false shot, rather than delivering the unplayable ones. The wait however, was longer on Saturday, owing to Joe Root’s brilliance, a few rusty passages in between and eluded fortune. Some missed the bat narrowly, a few took the edge only to fall short or fly between the scattered slip cordon. After 19.5 overs of toil, he finally found one to sneak between Jos Buttler’s bat and pad, which took the top of off-stump to make up for a delightful fast-bowlers’s dismissal. A loud roar and a gaze towards the skies summed up his persistence.
In his second over of his next spell, Ishant removed a set Moeen Ali to break a 58-run stand, before dismissing Sam Curran off the very next ball. Both left-handers were caught in the crease while pressing forward, and the angle from round the wicket successfully induced the outside edges, which were pouched safely in slips.
Ishant Sharma is outstanding bowling to left-handers. Since the start of 2015 he's taken 49 LHB wickets at an average of just 23.12.#ENGvIND— The CricViz Analyst (@cricvizanalyst) August 14, 2021
The late success might well serve as a major confidence booster before India’s bowl last in what has been a gripping contest. Furthermore, there are fond memories from seven years ago to look back to, and Ishant certainly won’t mind a repeat.
Kohli’s mixed DRS fortunes
Barring a successful call against Zak Crawley on the opening day at Trent Bridge, Virat Kohli’s decision making in terms of DRS calls in the series has been far from great. Driven by the bowler’s enthusiasm, as much by his own, Kohli has often found himself on the wrong end of the DRS challenges.
After two unsuccessful challenges in quick succession on Day 2 of the Lord’s Test - Mohammad Siraj being the bowler on each occasion - the Indian skipper was perhaps more circumspect in his decision making on Saturday. He rightly decided against sending three enthusiastic appeals upstairs against Ollie Robinson - Siraj being the bowler again - before the batsman himself challenged one unsuccessfully.
Kohli finally went for one three overs later, when a set Joe Root survived an excited appeal from Siraj and co. But the ball-tracking showed ‘Umpire’s call’ on hitting, thereby helping the visitors retain a review but depriving them an all-important wicket. The skipper just couldn’t hide his frustration and the wait to get one right continues.