Chris Woakes’ maiden Test century has put England in an unassailable position against India at Lord’s.
It was the calm after the storm, as England enjoyed clear skies and sunshine after two days of heavy rain that had seen India rolled out for 107 runs in just 35.2 overs on day two. The Indian bowlers made life difficult for England’s batsmen early on, getting considerable movement through the air and off the pitch.
Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings were looking good in the early overs, but both were back in the hunt by the time the score had reached 32, leaving captain Joe Root and debutant Ollie Pope, both at the crease, yet to score. Pope batted with great assurance in his first innings, while Root looked far from comfortable as the pair added 45 for the third wicket before Pope was trapped leg before for a well played 28 off 38 balls.
Root fell shortly after for a dour 19 off 53 balls to leave England on 89-4. Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler moved the innings on to 131 before Buttler became Mohammed Shami’s third leg before victim after a superb spell of bowling.
Woakes joined Bairstow and the pair took their time to build a substantial partnership as the wicket eased up and the bowlers lost their edge. Woakes’ innings was well paced as he took advantage of Ben Stokes’ absence to stake a claim for a regular place as a red-ball all-rounder for England. He started off batting with caution but accelerated the pace as his innings progressed, marching on to a tremendous century off 129 balls, with 15 fours.
Bairstow was looking odds-on to follow Woakes to a ton and a place on the Lord’s changing room honours board, before he nicked a good delivery from Hardik Pandya behind for Dinesh Karthik to take a smart catch.
Bairstow’s 93 off 144 balls (12 fours) came at a strike rate of 64.58, after he had added 189 for the sixth wicket with Woakes. Bairstow’s contribution to the partnership was just 73 runs as he played second fiddle to his batting partner.
Sam Curran continued his good form from Edgbaston to end the day 22 not out, along with Woakes on 120. It was a truly bountiful day for England, who finished on 357-6 after 81 overs. This Test looks way beyond India’s reach and the visitors will be looking to bat their way into form for the better part of two days to enable them to escape with a draw and hope for better form in the remaining Tests in the series.
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