Joe Root hundred puts England on top against India after day one of fourth Test in Ranchi

February 23, 2024

Joe Root struck a superb century in a timely return to form as England recovered from losing five wickets in the opening session of the fourth Test to close day one on 302-7.

Root century is his 31st in Tests and a record 10th against India. He also bettered Sir Alastair Cook's previous England record with his 91st score of fifty or more in the format.

On what looks a hugely challenging pitch for batting in Ranchi, Engand were earlier reduced to 112-5 after Ben Stokes (3) was pinned lbw on the stroke of lunch by a Ravindra Jadeja (1-55) delivery that barely bounced above ankle height.

But with Root leading the rebuild, sharing in a 113-run partnership for the sixth wicket with Ben Foakes (47), the visitors will feel reasonably content with their day's work after winning the toss and opting to make first use of the surface.

Root was muted in his celebrations as he brought up his hundred in the final seven overs of the day, leaving his skipper Stokes to the lead the fist-clenching and hand-clapping on the England balcony.

India fast bowler Akash dazzles on debut

India debutant Akash Deep (3-70) had earlier ripped out the England top order, taking three wickets in a devastating maiden spell in Test cricket.

Akash picked up Ben Duckett (11) - caught behind to a beauty from round the wicket - and Ollie Pope for a duck in the same over, the latter perhaps slightly unfortunate to be given out on DRS when getting a big stride in to the 27-yeard-old fast bowler.

Zak Crawley was then bowled for 42, albeit not quite as comprehensively as he was in the fourth over of the day when his off stump was sent cartwheeling out of the ground - Akash made to wait for the wicket after overstepping for a no-ball.

Crawley threatened to make the most of the reprieve, smashing 18 runs from four balls - including a glorious six struck over long-on - off the contrastingly wayward Mohammed Siraj at the other end as he, and England's opening stand, neared the half-century mark.

However, their momentum was forcefully halted with Akash's triple salvo in the space of two overs as India finally made inroads on the hugely helpful surface.

Root first found a willing partner in Yorkshire pal Jonny Bairstow (38) as the pair put on 52 prior to lunch. It was a stand dominated by Bairstow, who cracked four boundaries and a six in his 35-ball knock before succumbing lbw to Ravichandran Ashwin (1-83) when attempting one sweep too many.

It was Ashwin's 100th wicket against England in Tests. The 37-year-old off-spinner took the 500th for his career in the previous Test in Rajkot.

Both Pope and Bairstow fell to successful India DRS decisions but they also lost two of three reviews for the innings on a couple of close shouts against Root - to his first ball, when struck outside the line by Akash, and in Jadeja's over immediately after Ashwin's breakthrough, with a thin inside edge saving him.

Root finds stellar support in Foakes and Robinson

There would be no doubt about Stokes' dismissal in Jadeja's next over, however, as his delivery scooted along the deck to deceive the England skipper and pin him lbw to the last ball before lunch.

At that stage, England appeared in danger a subsiding to a below-par score, only for Root and Foakes to dig in and stubbornly see out the entire afternoon's play - the first time in the series that the visitors have not lost a wicket in a session.

Foakes kicked on after tea and seemed set to join Root through to a richly-deserved fifty as he slog-swept Ashwin for six and a pair of boundaries in the same over. The sudden surge seemed to disturb his rhythm, however, as the returning Siraj (2-60) picked him up in the next, tamely chipping one to short midwicket.

Tom Hartley (13), as has become a habit through the series, played some nice shots in a sparkling mini cameo before he was bowled by a ripper from Siraj, who began to find some reverse swing in his second spell.

But Ollie Robinson (31no) batted responsibly through to stumps, providing stellar support to Root in a an unbroken half-century stand that allowed his partner to reach his hundred.

Follow text commentary of day two of the fourth Test between India and England live on and the Sky Sports App from 3.45am on Saturday (4am first ball).

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