ROOT IS NOT OUT! It was bouncing over the stumps, so India have lost two reviews in five balls. I think that one was fair enough, though.
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Root pushed outside the line of an arm ball from Nadeem and was hit on the front pad. It might be umpire’s call, but I reckon Root is in trouble.
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INDIA REVIEW FOR LBW AGAINST ROOT! This one looks close.
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108th over: England 313-3 (Root 147, Stokes 31) Just before that review, Root pushed a single to bring up an assured fifty partnership with Stokes. The standard of cricket from both teams this morning has been extremely high.
REVIEW FOR LBW AGAINST STOKES! This is an odd one. He tried to reverse-sweep Ashwin, missed and gloved the ball up in the air on the off side. Ashwin must have thought it hit his arm because he was keen to review for LBW.
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107th over: England 312-3 (Root 146, Stokes 31) Root, beaten in the flight by Nadeem, drives uppishly for a single. That was a crafty bit of bowling, and a reminder that England can’t get lazy against India’s weaker (sic) spinners. If you’re playing Test cricket for India in 2021, you are on the good side of competent.
“This is turning to be a good news day here in Macau,” says David Melhuish. “First day of our CNY hols with sun and azure blue skies; 55 and 66 looking fine fettle; 1.2 mil vaccines arriving by road from HK (pop here is approx 600,000). LOOKING UP.”
2021: it’s our year!
106th over: England 310-3 (Root 145, Stokes 30) Ashwin switches ends to replace Ishant. At the moment batting looks very comfortable for England, though history tells us you should never get too comfortable in India. I still think they need at least 500 in this innings.
105th over: England 308-3 (Root 144, Stokes 29) Stokes gets down on on knee to paddle Nadeem over his shoulder for a couple. He looks so comfortable at No5, a position in which he averages 51.
“Hey Rob,” says Daniel Bernstein. “I’ve got the St Peters (Brighton) U13 cricket team coming on for a team zoom cricket watch at 9am. Assuming he is still in (!) I was going to give them a ‘watch how Root sweeps the spinners’ masterclass. Why isn’t he doing what he did in Sri Lanka? What’s different about the Indian spinners?”
I didn’t see enough of yesterday’s play to be sure, but it looks like it’s only Ashwin that he is slightly reticent to sweep. This Cricviz piece is worth a read.
104th over: England 303-3 (Root 142, Stokes 26) Ishant goes around the wicket to Stokes, who puts him away for consecutive boundaries. The first was a beautiful, wristy stroke, flicked between mid-on and midwicket, and the second a confident square drive. Stokes, who is batting with serene authority, has 26 from 44 balls. Time for drinks.
“Hello from Winnipeg,” says John Corp. “Where it’s -24C and with the wind feels like -38C, so I’m keeping warm with a large brandy.”
I think I caught mild hypothermia just from reading that email.
103rd over: England 295-3 (Root 142, Stokes 18) The left-armer spinner Shahbaz Nadeem replaces Ashwin. Stokes plays a reverse-sweep first ball, a statement of… something. The commentators think Stokes is conscious of the rough outside his off stump and is trying to get on top of Nadeem from the start. A single brings Root on strike, and he sweeps crisply behind square for four.
“If he can stay in and get there, I can’t WAIT to see Stokes take on the support spinners,” says William Juba. “Could be in for fireworks. I appear to getting ahead of myself! I’ll try to stay in the moment. And then Butler the same when we’ve already scored 500 and Pope has his first subcontinental hundred…”
My suggested first-innings score of 20,000 is starting to look conservative.
102nd over: England 290-3 (Root 137, Stokes 17) Ishant has another LBW shout against Root, but again it was sliding past leg stump. Ishant is bowling beautifully here, particularly to Root, and that’s another maiden. England have scored 27 from 12.3 overs this morning; more than anything, that’s a reflection of some high-class bowling.
“Rio sounds nice,” sniffs Matt Bannerman. “Here in dark and chilly Oxford, the Beast from the East we are forecast for tomorrow holds out the prospect of that rare pleasure: watching cricket whilst the snow falls.”
101st over: England 290-3 (Root 138, Stokes 17) Stokes brings out the sweep for the first time today, pinging Ashwin over square leg for four.
“Hi Rob,” says Abhi Saxena. “This match is going to be fun. The result I expect will be decided on who plays this day and the next one better. I would imagine it to be spinning a lot on this dusty pitch by days four and five. Want Root to get 150 as he is such a likeable person but not too many, as otherwise the match will get very hard for the Indians. Will be interesting to see how England bowl. I think that will be quite crucial.”
I can’t believe I’m typing this, but England might win this match. They need a huge first-innings score – 500 minimum, ideally 20,000 – and then for the pitch to deteriorate. But it’s not beyond the realms.
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100th over: England 284-3 (Root 137, Stokes 12) Root inside-edges an inducker from Sharma for a single. There is a little bit of reverse swing, so England need to be careful against Ishant. India’s main three bowlers (Bumrah, Ishant, Ashwin) have bowled really well, going at just over two an over between them. The newer bowlers, Shahbaz Nadeem and Washington Sundar, went at almost four an over yesterday.
“Morning Rob,” writes Becky C. “Having made the decision yesterday to get up at 3.30 mainly because of the sheer amount of work I needed to get through that would be improved by having the cricket for company, with the ultimately futile thought that I’d ‘be able to finish work early’, I’m feeling surprisingly calm this morning. Maybe it’s the early morning hour inducing a sleep deprived calm but I was able to watch both Stokes’s six and Ashwin’s excellent next delivery with equal amounts of calm, a feeling that it was simply going to be alright. Have I reached a higher state of cricket consciousness?”
Higher State of Cricket Consciousness would be a great Josh Wink remix: all those insistent do doo doos supplemented by random bits of commentary from Henry Blofeld and Rob Key.
99th over: England 282-3 (Root 136, Stokes 11) “I’m here!” says Ian Jefferson. “Keeping an eye on your OBO from San Francisco. What else is there to do? Haven’t been more than a mile from my house all week. Cricket is keeping me sane.”
You and gazillions of others.“I’m here!” says Ian Jefferson. “Keeping an eye on your OBO from San Francisco. What else is there to do? Haven’t been more than a mile from my house all week. Cricket is keeping me sane.”
You and gazillions of others.
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98th over: England 280-3 (Root 135, Stokes 10) Ishant Sharma replaces Bumrah. He bowled excellently yesterday, particularly in that spell to Root just after lunch, and his third ball of the morning brings a biggish LBW appeal against Root. The umpire isn’t interested and Virat Kohli decides not to review. It was missing leg stump.
That’s another maiden, the third in a row. India are making England work really hard for their runs: we’ve had 17 in 8.3 overs this morning, and that includes a six from Stokes.
97th over: England 280-3 (Root 135, Stokes 10) Ashwin is starting to get some turn to Stokes, who shapes to go after one outside off stump and then aborts the stroke. Another maiden.
“Feeling a little lost in Rio de Janeiro right now,” says Louis Sturgess, “but feeling better for live cricket on the Guardian app! Root for 200?”
He’s playing well enough, though that doesn’t always count for much against an attack of this quality.
96th over: England 280-3 (Root 135, Stokes 10) Bumrah bowls a series of fullish induckers to Root, who defends immaculately. A maiden. He is batting obscenely well at the moment, perhaps as well as he has ever played.
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95th over: England 280-3 (Root 135, Stokes 10) Ashwin tosses one up to Stokes, who accepts the invitation and drives nonchalantly over long-off for six. Crikey. Ashwin responds with an excellent delivery that turns past the outside edge. This is already a cracking battle.
94th over: England 274-3 (Root 135, Stokes 4) Bumrah is getting a bit of movement; it might be reverse swing, even after only 14 overs. Root defends a couple of induckers and then steers a short ball between slip and gully for four. He looks in the mood for another paternal hundred.
93rd over: England 270-3 (Root 131, Stokes 4) A quiet over from Ashwin, one from it.
92nd over: England 269-3 (Root 130, Stokes 4) Root clips Bumrah off the pads for a single. He has already scored more Test runs in 2021 than he did last year, 555 to 464. Stokes hasn’t scored a run this year, and it almost stays that way for another 48 hours when Bumrah sends down a sizzling yorker from round the wicket. Stokes just gets his bat down in time to squeeze it wide of leg stump. That was a stunning delivery. Stokes gets off the mark next ball, guiding a boundary to third man.
91st over: England 264-3 (Root 129, Stokes 0) It’s R Ashwin from the other end. He has a slip and leg gully for Root, who pushes a single into the covers to get off the mark today. Ashwin can be deadly against left-handers so it’s no surprise to see him in the attack so early with Stokes at the crease. Ashwin has dismissed Stokes seven times in Tests, more than any other bowler. Stokes continues his watchful start by defending the last four balls of the over.
90th over: England 263-3 (Root 128, Stokes 0) The new batsman is Ben Stokes, who solidly defends his first delivery and ignores the next two outside off stump.
Jasprit Bumrah will open the bowling. He has three deliveries remaining in his 19th over, having dismissed Dom Sibley with what turned out to be the last ball of the day.
Morning. When Chris Silverwood took over as England coach in 2019, he gave the Test team a simple challenge: to start making big first-innings scores again. Everyone in the media got very excited by England’s change of direction, as if Silverwood had invented penicillin rather than stated an eternal truth of Test cricket.
The important bit was not the message but whether Silverwood could get it across to a batting line-up that had become used to playing limited-overs Test cricket. He did, with almost immediate results. England are once again a grown-up batting team, and they gave another demonstration of their maturity on the first day in Chennai.
They reached 263 for three at the close, with Dom Sibley making 87 and the revitalised Joe Root an unbeaten 128. Both played superbly, and as a result England look in good shape to make 400 in the first innings for the seventh time in 15 Tests under Silverwood. That’s an impressive ratio – but there is one problem. In India, 400 isn’t always worth a damn.
We’ve all been told the scare story of Chennai 2016. England finished the first day on 284 for four, went on to post a big score of 477 – and were thrashed by an innings. A week earlier, they scored exactly 400 in the first innings at Mumbai – and you know the rest. That’s why Root, in his interview last night, spoke of trying to get 600 or even 700. Then, and only then, will they be able to relax in the knowledge that they are immune from defeat.
The first day, good as it was for England, didn’t really tell us anything about where this match is heading. By tonight we should have a much better idea.
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