|Fifth Test, Chennai (day one):|
|England 284-4: Moeen 120*, Root 88, Jadeja 3-71|
|India: yet to bat|
A century from Moeen Ali and Joe Root’s 88 gave England the better of the first day of the fifth and final Test against India in Chennai.
Moeen, dropped on nought, shared 146 for the third wicket with Root after the tourists had been reduced to 21-2.
When Root was given out caught behind on review, Moeen added 86 with Jonny Bairstow (49) and ended the day 120 not out as England reached 284-4.
India already have an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series.
The momentum has been with the hosts since the drawn first Test, but they were punished for some sloppy moments – as well as the chance missed off Moeen, Root was given a let-off on nine.
After a difficult morning on a surface offering only slow turn, England positively took the upper hand and must capitalise on day two to bat India out of the match, a task that has been beyond them so far on this tour.
“England will be happy with the way the day has panned out,” said former England spinner Vic Marks on Test Match Special. “At 21-2 you thought ‘hang on a minute, last match of the tour, mind’s not on the job’ and England could have made a fool of themselves.
“Root set the pattern, but Moeen managed to get through that first 30-40 minutes when he struggled, and away he went after lunch. He was in great form by the end, and relished the new ball.”
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England up the ante to punish India mistakes
England seemed set to waste winning a fourth toss of the series when Keaton Jennings loosely edged a drive off Ishant Sharma and captain Alastair Cook pushed to slip to give the impressive Ravindra Jadeja the first of his three wickets.
On a turgid morning, an uncertain Moeen was tormented by Ravichandran Ashwin and should have been taken by KL Rahul at mid-wicket off Jadeja, while Root was fortunate to edge through a vacant second slip.
After scoring at 2.34 runs per over in the first session, the tourists took a more aggressive approach following lunch, bumping along at 3.54 for the rest of the day.
First it was the intent of Moeen and Root that reversed the momentum, while Bairstow struck three sixes between long-on and mid-wicket.
Mercurial Moeen battles to century
Moeen’s batting in this series has reflected the performance of the England team. He made a century when runscoring was its easiest in the first Test, was part of the collapses in the second and third, then played an awful stroke when well set to begin the tourists’ slide in the fourth.
Here, he was initially all at sea against skilful off-spinner Ashwin, who challenged both edges of the bat.
Fluency arrived after lunch as the left-hander scored off his legs with neat footwork and powerful sweeps – almost two-thirds of his runs came through the on side.
He brought up a fourth century of 2016 – more than any other England batsman – with 30 minutes remaining in the day and still had time to play some eye-catching off-drives against the second new ball.
Angry Root falls short
Though Moeen was the man to reach a hundred, it was Root who made batting look easier, bar one three-ball spell from Umesh Yadav where he edged through the slips and survived a very strong lbw appeal.
Accumulating in typically busy style, he particularly targeted the spinners with sweeps through the leg side.
Nearing a century, he looked for another sweep off Jadeja, attempting to fetch the ball from outside the off stump. When it went through to wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel, India’s unsuccessful appeal was followed by a review.
Root initially thought he had little to worry about, but third umpire Bruce Oxenford decided that a spike of sound could only have been ball on bat, leaving the England vice-captain visibly angry as he stormed off.
Bairstow cut a similar figure as he departed, frustrated as a drive off Jadeja was held at short cover, but Ben Stokes accompanied Moeen to ensure England suffered no late wobble.
Former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott on Test Match Special
Joe Root gave the innings some impetus, got the scoreboard moving and wasn’t afraid to sweep, as Moeen Ali was batting quite scratchily at the other end at that stage.
They took the game away from the Indians, it was a surprise when Root got out. Jonny Bairstow’s been on great form this year, he hit the spinner out of the park.
But he was caught at cover – that’s why they make 400s, not 550s, and 400 is not a big total in the subcontinent. They’re in danger of not doing themselves justice, but well done Moeen, full marks for him for making 120.
‘I was adamant I didn’t hit it’
England batsman Joe Root, who made 88: “The way we fought back was excellent. It was a wicket where you never really felt in and it spun from the start.
“Hopefully the pitch is a bit firmer tomorrow, if we can apply the way we played again we’ll be looking at a good score.”
On the decision to give him out caught behind: “I was adamant I didn’t hit it but there was a spike on the replay and there is no point moaning about it.”
In the runs – the stats
- Joe Root has played 11 Tests against India and made a half-century in every one of them.
- Root’s 11 fifties in consecutive Tests versus India is a record for any player against one other Test side. Five men have made nine straight half-centuries in as many Tests against the same team.
- Alastair Cook became the 10th man to reach 11,000 Test runs.
- At 31 years 357 days, Cook is the youngest man to reach 11,000 beating the 34 years 95 days of Sachin Tendulkar. Brian Lara was the fastest to 11,000 in terms of matches played.
- Moeen’s 100 is the first by a number four for England since Root against South Africa in January. England number fours scored 493 runs at an average of 20.54 in 26 innings in between.