Cricket-‘Two lads from Yorkshire’ scripts England record hunt at Edgbaston

BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) – Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow beat hundreds of unbeaten to win England’s record 378 pursuit against India for a seven-wicket win on Tuesday in the rearranged Fifth Test.

The hosts entered the final day at Edgbaston needing 119 while India, who held a 2-1 lead heading into the contest, needed seven wickets.

Overnight batsmen Root and Bairstow sealed victory in the first session, showcasing a brand of attacking cricket that was quickly becoming the hallmark of the Test team under new coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes.

India’s dim hopes of victory rested on early breakthroughs, but their setters could neither separate the Yorkshire duo nor stem the border flow.

Root was so comfortable on a pitch with variable bounce that he treated Shardul Thakur like a spinner – stepping up against the seam thrower and playing a reverse scoop against him that went for a six.

Root’s undefeated 142, his 28th Hundred Test, also included 19 limits.

Bairstow scored his second cent of the game with a tight single before celebrating it with three straight limits from Mohammed Siraj.

YORKSHIRE BOYS

“Just two guys from Yorkshire, who grew up playing together from the academy to the test matches, it’s quite special,” said Bairstow, man of the match for his fourth cent in five innings, of his epic stand unbroken from 269 with Root .

England’s previous most successful pursuit came in 2019 when they hit a target of 359 runs in an Ashes Test against Australia.

Tuesday’s victory follows England’s home victory over New Zealand as they chased goals of 277, 299 and 296 to shut out the world champions 3-0.

Stokes said the sustained aggressiveness they were showing was part of their plans to change the way Test cricket was played in England.

“(The target of) 378 five weeks ago would have been scary, but it’s all good,” the all-rounder said.

“We are trying to rewrite the way Test cricket is played, in England in particular… We are bringing in a new group of fans to test cricket. We want to leave a mark.”

SCALE COMPETITION

The result was a far cry from what India had envisioned after dominating the first three days and securing a handy 132 first-leg lead.

They shot 245 in the second set and their offense looked somewhat jaded.

Leading the team in the absence of Rohit Sharma, who had tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the game, fashion designer Jasprit Bumrah sought solace by being part of a seesaw contest.

“That’s the beauty of Test cricket,” Bumrah said.

“Even if you have three good days, you have to keep coming and keep up the good performance.”

Bumrah will also find solace in being part of a test case.

In bowling against him, the Englishman Stuart Broad conceded 35 points in a Saturday, the most expensive in the history of the tests.

The five-game run could not be completed last year following cases of COVID-19 in the Indian side ahead of the final game at Old Trafford.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Clare Fallon/Christian Radnedge/Ken Ferris)

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