England captain Joe Root made it back-to-back hundreds as he continued to keep India at bay in the second Test at Lord’s on Saturday.
At tea on the third day, England were 314-5, just 50 runs behind India’s first-innings 364.
Root was 132 not out, having been the only England batsman to pass fifty in the rain-marred drawn first Test of this five-match series at Trent Bridge last week with innings of 64 and 109.
On Saturday, however, he was ably assisted in a fourth-wicket partnership of 121 by Jonny Bairstow until his Yorkshire team-mate gave his innings away on 57.
Jos Buttler was then out for 23 but the recalled Moeen Ali was unbeaten on 20 at tea.
At lunch, England had been 216-3 with Root 89 not and Bairstow 51 not out.
But just before the advent of the new ball, Bairstow fell into a clearly signposted hooking trap — India’s quicks were repeatedly bowling short — when he gloved an attempted pull off Mohammed Siraj, with the ball ballooning to India captain Virat Kohli in the slips.
It was a careless way for Bairstow’s first fifty in 20 Test innings to end.
After India took the new ball, Root’s quick single off Jasprit Bumrah saw him to a fourth Test hundred at Lord’s off 200 balls, including nine fours
Root’s 22nd Test century equalled the tallies of Walter Hammond, Colin Cowdrey, Geoffrey Boycott and Ian Bell.Only Kevin Pietersen (23) and Alastair Cook (33) have scored more hundreds at this level for England.
It was an all the more creditable innings given the ongoing strains imposed by Covid-19, with Root having to cope with the absence of key all-rounder Ben Stokes, due to mental health issues, and Jofra Archer, with the fast bowler ruled out for the rest of this year with an elbow injury.
In addition, star batsman Root knew that should he get out cheaply an England collapse was all too likely.
Soon after reaching three figures, Root became the second-youngest batsman in history to 9,000 Test runs at the age of 30 years and 227 days, just behind Cook (30 years and 155 days).
Buttler scored in typically brisk fashion until he over-ambitiously tried to drive a full-length inswinger from Ishant Sharma and was bowled between bat and pad.
England were now 283-5, still 81 runs adrift.
They resumed Saturday on 119-3, a deficit of 245 runs and were again left looking to Root, 48 not out overnight, after opener Rory Burns had fallen for a well-made 49.
Not for the first time, he had come in to bat with England in trouble at 23-2 — the 15th time in their 19 Test innings this year they had lost their second wicket before reaching 50.
India paceman Mohammed Siraj had done the damage, removing Dom Sibley and the recalled Haseeb Hameed, out for a first-ball nought, with successive deliveries.
Root, however, completed an 82-ball fifty with a stylish square-driven four off Siraj.
Bairstow, who started the day on six not out, struck commanding straight-driven fours off Mohammed Shami and Siraj before a clipped single off Ishant saw him to a 90-ball fifty including six boundaries.
India’s total was built on impressive innings by their openers, with KL Rahul making 129 and Rohit Sharma 83.
James Anderson, already third in the all-time list of leading Test wicket-takers, led England’s attack with 5-62.
It was the 39-year-old swing bowler’s 31st five-wicket haul in 164 matches at this level and seventh at Lord’s.
© Agence France-Presse