England v India: Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow complete record chase at Edgbaston

India 416 (Pants 146, Jadeja 104; Anderson 5-60) & 245 (Pujara 66, Pant 57; Stokes 4-33)
UK 284 (Bairstow 106, Siraj 4-66) & 378-3 (Root 142*, Bairstow 114*)
England won by seven wickets; Series 2-2 drawn

England casually completed a record 378 chase to beat India in quick time on the final morning of the fifth Test at Edgbaston.

Centuries of Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow led England to their most successful pursuit in Test cricket and the ninth greatest in the history of the game.

Root and Bairstow needed another 119 from their 259-3 overnight, rolling with incredible ease and leading England to a memorable seven-wicket win, one of their greatest wins of all time.

Bairstow’s 114 not out was his second century of the game, while Root finished unbeaten with 142 in a straight 269 partnership.

They have led England to new heights in a spectacular summer under new captain Ben Stokes and manager Brendon McCullum.

The win ensures a series postponed last summer ends 2-2 in a draw but, more importantly, it’s the biggest endorsement yet of England’s hugely positive approach to Test cricket.

Their next series comes in August with South Africa, while a completely different squad under new white-ball captain Jos Buttler plays the first of three T20 games against India on Thursday.

Bazball reaches new heights

Just five weeks ago, England’s Test cricket was in a doldrums when McCullum and Stokes were tasked with reviving a team that had won just once in 17 attempts.

While the manner of the 3-0 series win over New Zealand was exciting, playing “Bazball” against the mighty Indians felt like a different perspective.

The home team was under a lot of pressure at various times during this game. They were 83-5 in response to India’s first-innings 416, then Monday led India by 322 points and five second-innings wicks in hand.

And yet England’s insistence that they could pursue any goal proved correct, thanks largely to the reckless progress they made on a scintillating fourth afternoon.

Oddly enough, given the size of the result, the fifth morning was almost disappointing.

Edgbaston was far from full despite taking every free pass available while Root and Bairstow eliminated what little danger remained in the chase.

That doesn’t detract from what England have achieved – overtaking 378 for losing just three wickets is truly remarkable.

What else can this new England achieve?

Root and Bairstow lead England

Superlatives for England’s pair of hitting maestros from Yorkshire have long been exhausted. This was Bairstow’s fourth hundred in five innings and sixth this year, Root has made 11 since early 2021.

Their rebuild from 109-3 on Monday rocked India. When Root resumed at 76 and Bairstow at 72 Tuesday morning, India still had fielders scattered, allowing runs to flow.

Root played dreamy drives and clips off the pads. After leading Mohammed Siraj to third man for his 28th test ton, he unrolled the trick shots. Shardul Thakur was strapped over the head four times and then scooped backwards six times.

Bairstow was more cautious but still lashed out at anything that was short. He only showed nerve at 99, going into triple figures with a pinched single from Ravindra Jadeja and celebrating with an emotional hug from Root.

In the end, their partnership was fourth-highest of any pair in the fourth innings of a Test while the run chase surpassed the previous English record of 359 set when Stokes stunned Australia at Headingley in 2019.

The victory, a formality for most of the morning, was completed nearly half an hour before lunch.

India misses its chance

This is a crushing defeat for India. Last summer they were by far the superior team but they canceled the fifth Test following a Covid outbreak in their backroom staff and have now missed out on a first consecutive win in England since 2007.

Not only that, but this is the biggest goal they have failed to defend in Test cricket.

They made a selection error by skipping spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, carelessly gave away a dominant position when batting in their second innings and then were completely passive as England overpowered them in the chase.

They were then fined 40% of their match fee and penalized with two ICC World Test Championship points for a slow overrun.

Could the tourists have avoided the mistakes had Jasprit Bumrah not had to fill in for captain Rohit Sharma who has been ruled out with Covid?

Realistically, the way England played, nothing could have stopped them.

England was “phenomenal” – reaction

England captain Ben Stokes speaking to Test Match Special: “When you really know what you want to achieve as a team and how you want to play, it makes a lot of things easier.

“We knew we would always go out there and try to chase it.

“It’s phenomenal. I wish people could understand what’s going on in that dressing room right now – it’s amazing.”

England batsman Jonny Bairstow: “It’s really something to win 378 with just three demerits. We will never forget that.

“The opening partnership deserves a lot of credit for the way they went about it. The kind of cricket we’re trying to play was embodied in that opening score.”

India captain Jasprit Bumrah: “Test cricket is never easy. When you’ve had three good days you still have to come back and perform well. We’ve had three good days and we were a little short with the bat and we let the opponent in.

“We felt like we had a chance this morning. We went in with a very good intensity, obviously it didn’t work out but we did our best.”

Former England bowler Phil Tufnell: “It’s a great hitting. It’s just a relentless sweep of the punch and a great hitting for four. It’s something that has to be seen.

“Joe Root made batting look like a routine job. No worries on earth, just went about his business and never looked like he was stepping out.

“I’m just trying to absorb everything. If England were seeded at 550 they would still have knocked it all off. India had no ideas.”

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