Root and Bairstow Deliver Remarkable Record-breaking Win
After a ten-month break, India returned to conclude their Test series against England, leading 2-1. For the tourists, Jasprit Bumrah captained the side for the first time (never having done so at any level of senior cricket), after Rohit Sharma missed out due to Covid. For England, there were two changes from the previous Test: Sam Billings was in as keeper from the start, as Ben Foakes was laid low with Covid, while James Anderson returned in place of Jamie Overton, whose excellent 97 wasn’t enough to keep his place in the bowling line-up. What was more striking, however, was that just four players from the fourth Test last summer were picked for this one: Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Ollie Pope and Joe Root.
Ben Stokes, who didn’t play at all in the series last summer, won the toss and chose to field first. Anderson and Stuart Broad came into the Test with an aggregate of 1200 wickets between them. With both regular openers missing, India went with Cheteshwar Pujara and Shubman Gill at the top. It was the latter who fell first, edging Anderson to Zak Crawley at second slip. Hanuma Vihari was next in, and was dropped off Matty Potts by Crawley before he’d reached double figures, but the fielder soon made amends when he caught Pujara off a beauty from Anderson. Then the rain came and an early lunch with the score on 53 for two.
Soon after the break, Vihari was plumb LBW to Potts, giving the bowler his 50th first-class wicket of this remarkable summer (he had taken only 42 wickets in the rest of his career), 14 more than any other bowler. His form and energy mean that Ollie Robinson has quickly become the forgotten man of the England attack. That brought Rishabh Pant to the crease, and he started in frenetic manner, but it was Virat Kohli who fell next, trying to leave one from Potts but getting an inside edge onto the stumps. Shreyas Iyer came in for his first Test innings outside India and reached double figures after just four deliveries, but he was soon strangled down the leg side by Anderson, taken brilliantly by a diving Billings, and India were reduced to 98 for five.
After such a good start, England now needed to remove either Pant or Ravindra Jadeja quickly, but it didn’t happen and Pant batted as positively as ever, scoring at a run a ball and playing some glorious shots. The fifty partnership came up in 54 balls with a straight six by Pant off Jack Leach, who wasn’t finding as much in the wicket as he had at Headingley. Pant’s fifty duly arrived in 51 balls and at tea it was 174 for five.
In the evening session, batting looked easy against the old ball, and the hundred partnership came up in 130 balls. On 80, Pant reached 2000 Test runs, at an average of 42.55, and soon he was stepping down the wicket to thump Anderson back over his head. He soon reached his fifth century off just 89 balls. Next it was the 150 partnership in 182 balls and then next ball Jadeja reached his fifty in 109 balls. Pant then accelerated, hitting one over from Leach for 22. At 191, this became the record highest sixth-wicket partnership at Edgbaston, then the 200 partnership came up off 218 balls. Pant and Jadeja set a new record sixth-wicket partnership for India against England of 205 (beating K.L.Rahul and Pant in 2018).
Finally, England made a breakthrough in the unlikely guise of Root (who’d gone for 22 off 13 balls), who found Pant’s edge to Crawley to send him back to the pavilion after a brilliant 146 off 111 balls. Then, late in the evening, Shardul Thakur was caught behind for 1 off a superb short ball from Stokes. Things could have been even better at the end had Billings clung on to a tough chance down the leg side from Jadeja. At the close India were 338 for seven and in a strong position.
It was Bob Willis Day as play resumed, and England decided that short-pitched bowling was the way to finish off the tail, despite little evidence it was working. Jadeja brought up his first Test hundred outside of India with a crashing cut off 183 balls. Straight after that, Mohammed Shami tried an upper cut off Broad and was caught at third man; it was Broad’s 550th Test wicket after rather a long time stuck on 549. Jadeja swung wildly at the new ball from Anderson and was bowled for 104, to make it 375 for nine.
What came next was entirely unexpected. Broad tried to pepper Bumrah, but the over went as follows: 4, 5 wides, 6 and a no ball, 4, 4, 4, 6, 1. Only at the end did Broad bowl anything like a sensible delivery, and he had conceded a world Test record 35 runs in an over, beating the previous record of 28 held jointly by Robin Peterson (to Brian Lara), Anderson (to George Bailey) and Root (to Keshav Maharaj). Anderson finished off the innings by having Mohammed Siraj well caught in the deep by Broad, giving him figures of five for 60, taking him to 50 wickets at Edgbaston and giving him a 32nd five-wicket haul, his sixth against India and his third on this ground. Having taken a five-fer on his debut in May 2003, it meant that his 32 five-wicket hauls were spread across more than 19 years – easily a world record. India were all out for 416.
When the India bowlers took the new ball, batting suddenly looked a much trickier prospect – but their lengths were so much better. As soon as Bumrah went round the wicket, he found a gap in Alex Lees’ defence and bowled him, so it was 16 for one at lunch. Soon after the break, Crawley pushed hard at one he could have left from Bumrah and was caught in the slips – it was an extremely familiar dismissal for him. Then the rain came and the players were ushered to the pavilion. Pope made the identical error to Crawley, pushing his hands at a wide one, and edged to the slips to give Bumrah his third wicket and to leave England in a mess on 44 for three.
Root and Jonny Bairstow took the score to 60 for three when the rain returned, leading to an early tea break. The bowling continued to be excellent, so even Root looked unsettled and Siraj accounted for him when Root tried to late cut one that tucked him up and it went through to Pant. Leach came out as nightwatchman but couldn’t survive the day, having been dropped by Kohli first ball. England finished the day deep in trouble at 84 for five. After all the success against New Zealand, it had been a chastening day.
For once, Bairstow had been pretty quiet thus far, hitting 13 off 61, but that would soon change early on the third day, after he and Kohli exchanged some words. Some of the bowling was superb, but there was no luck for the Indians – even when Stokes skied one Thakur couldn’t hold on to the catch. Soon after that the fifty partnership came up in 60 balls as Bairstow continued his dominant form, reaching his fifty off 81 balls. Stokes was dropped a second time on 25, but the very next ball he drilled Thakur to Bumrah to reduce England to 149 for six. The loss of his captain if anything accelerated Bairstow’s scoring, as he made one of the most fearsome bowling attacks look very ordinary, hitting them all around the ground. With Billings he added fifty in 48 balls (Billings made just 7 of them). Rain stopped play for an early lunch with the score on 200 for six.
After the break, Bairstow continued onwards, and the follow-on was saved before he reached his hundred in 119 balls; it was his 11th century, his fifth of 2022, and his first v India or at Birmingham. After reaching the landmark, he became slightly becalmed and was out slashing at Shami and edged to Kohli at slip for 106. Broad didn’t last long, skying Siraj to Pant, then Billings chopped Siraj onto his stumps. Potts played some hefty shots but England were all out for 284, trailing by 132 runs, after a good, low catch in the slips as Siraj finished with four for 66.
First over of India’s second innings, Anderson had Gill caught by Crawley in the slips, but there were no more wickets before tea as India reached 37 for one. After the break, Vihari pushed at one that was slightly wide from Broad and edged it to Bairstow. That brought Kohli to the wicket, and he started off with some sumptuous shots, but then a snorter of a delivery from Stokes was edged to Billings who made a hash of catching it, only for Root to pick up the rebound and send Kohli back for 20. Pant continued his fine form from the first innings and with Pujara put on fifty off 88 balls, with the latter reaching his half-century in 139 deliveries just before the close, by which time India were 125 for three.
Starting the fourth day 257 runs ahead, India knew that history was already on their side as the record run chase in Tests at Edgbaston was 283 back in 2008, with only one other chase of 200-plus; however, England’s current form suggested that they would go for any target – even 400-plus – but first they needed to pick up quick wickets. In his first over, Broad had Pujara slashing one to gully and he was out for 66. Broad almost had Pant soon after, but Crawley dropped the tough chance. Pant made the most of his reprieve completing his fifty in 76 balls. Shreyas pulled Potts into the hands of Anderson, giving the bowler his 100th catch. As such he joined an illustrious group with 1000 runs, 100 wickets and 100 catches: Garry Sobers, Ian Botham, Carl Hooper, Shane Warne and Jacques Kallis.
The arrival of Leach into the attack saw Pant launch an audacious sweep to the boundary from more than two feet outside off, and when Leach bowled a straighter one he tried to reverse sweep it, only to find the hands of Root at slip – gone for 57. Thakur struggled with the short ball, and was caught off Potts at fine leg, and India went to lunch on 229 for seven after those three quick wickets.
England often struggle to clean up the tail, so Stokes decided to bowl himself ahead of the new ball being available. Shami mistimed a hook and Lees took the catch; Jadeja chopped one onto his stumps; and Bumrah fell to another short ball and Stokes had done the job – India were all out for 245 and Stokes had figures of four for 33; England needed a daunting 378 to win. There had been only eight higher successful run chases in all Test history, and England had never chased so many to win. In Tests in England, Bradman’s 1948 Australia were the only side to win after being set so many. History truly beckoned.
England’s openers were both under pressure, averaging in the mid-20s. Third ball he faced, Lees stepped down the wicket and carted Shami for four through mid-wicket – the plan was clear; could they execute it? The fifty partnership came up in 54 balls with a reverse sweep by Lees off Jadeja in his first over; it was scintillating batting. Lees reached his second Test fifty in just 44 balls, then Crawley decided it was his turn to show what he could do. The pair completed their hundred partnership in 120 balls – the first by England openers since last September and the quickest ever for the England first wicket. It took a brilliant nip-backer from Bumrah to bowl Crawley and break the partnership on 107, and that was the score at tea.
First ball after the break, Bumrah had Pope caught behind for a duck – his first in Tests. Then Lees was run out when Root called him through and he was late setting off: 109 for three – and England’s two form players were together as Bairstow came out to bat. India recognised the importance of the moment, blowing two DRS reviews in quick succession, but to make matters worse they dropped Bairstow in the slips when he was on 14. Soon after that the fifty partnership came up in 86 balls – relatively steady stuff after what we’ve seen of late.
Root was first to bring up his fifty in 71 balls; his handshake with Bairstow suggested that this was only a minor milestone along the way. Their tenth hundred partnership wasn’t far behind, in 141 balls, before Bairstow reached his fifty in 75 balls. By the close England had reached 259 for three, the partnership was 150 off 198 balls, and Edgbaston was looking forward to a full house on the final day, with England needing 119 more runs and India wanting seven wickets.
It is the mark of the recent transformation of England’s batting that there were few nerves as the final day began. Rightly so, as the day’s play lasted just under 20 overs. The first landmark to arrive was the 200 partnership, off 248 balls, by which stage both men were in their nineties. Root reached three figures first, off 136 balls; it was his 28th century, his 11th since the start of 2021 (during which time he has averaged over 61 and made 2635 runs) and his ninth against India (no one has scored more).
Bairstow duly followed him to his century, off an almost identical 138 balls, as he completed his second century of the match, his 12th overall and his sixth of 2022 (when he averages 76.46 and has 994 runs to his name). Under Stokes’s four-match captaincy, he has 614 runs at an average of over 102. India had little left to give in the field, and the inevitable seven-wicket win was duly recorded, as England reached 378 for three. The partnership of 269 was an England record for the fourth wicket against India, beating Hammond and Worthington at The Oval in 1936.
Inside a month, England had chased down totals of 277, 299, 296 and now 378. They’d done it at run rates of 3.53, 5.98, 5.44 and now 4.93 – and against the two sides who had contested the right to be called the best side in the world in 2021. Bairstow was named Man of the Match, while Root and Bumrah were their respective Men of the Series, which ended in a 2-2 draw.