Root, Bairstow firm as England eye to level the series

BIRMINGHAM: England’s dependable pair of Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow stood firm with their unbeaten 150-run partnership before the openers provided a solid start as the home side need 119 runs to level the series.

In the rescheduled fifth Test of the series, India set England a huge target of 378 after being bowled out for 245 in the second session.

The right-handed middle-order batter Cheteshwar Pujara and last inning’s centurion Rishabh Pant were the pick of the batters as they both scored important half-centuries, while the rest of the batters could not score big.

Pujara top-scored with 66 off 168, laced with eight boundaries, while Pant bettered his last inning’s century with 57 off 86 with the help of as many boundaries.

For England, captain Ben Stokes led from the front with his four wickets, while Matthew Potts and Stuart Broad bagged two each. James Anderson, on the other hand, made one scalp.

In the run chase, the hosts were off to a flying start as their struggling opening pair stood up for their team in an important situation and laid a solid foundation for the run chase with a magnificent 107-run opening stand.

The left-handed opener Zack Crawley, who was eyeing his sixth Test century, fell four short of it as the Indian captain Jasprit Bumrah castled him for 46. He faced 76 balls and smashed seven boundaries in the course of his outstanding knock.

Crawley’s departure triggered a frustrating collapse as England lost two more wickets after adding just as many runs to their total and slipped to 109/3 with Alex Lees, who brought up his second Test fifty falling victim to a mixup between the wickets after scoring 56 off 65 deliveries.

With the side struggling at 109/3, Root and Bairstow showcased grit and put on an astounding 150-run partnership to put England in the commanding position before the conclusion of the fourth day.

Bairstow scored an unbeaten 72 off just 87 balls, while England’s top-scorer in the inning – Root is unbeaten with his 76 on 112 balls, including nine boundaries.

The duo will now resume England’s run chase on the final day of the rescheduled fifth Test at 259/3 as the hosts need a further 119 runs.

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