Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Root Makes a Mockery of Spin Fears as He Fires Century; Batsman's Knock of 124 Puts England on Top after Recent Travails in Bangladesh. Chris Stocks Reports from Rajkot

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Root Makes a Mockery of Spin Fears as He Fires Century; Batsman's Knock of 124 Puts England on Top after Recent Travails in Bangladesh. Chris Stocks Reports from Rajkot

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Stocks reports

INDIA is where Joe Root made his debut four years ago and it proved his stage once again here as he scored a magnificent hundred on the opening day of this five-match series to ease England's fears over facing spin.

Root has proved himself a batsmen of rare quality since announcing himself to the world in Nagpur in December 2012. That match, the final Test of the series, was an occasion where England drew to secure their first win in India in 27 years.

While the chances of a repeat this time appear remote, Root's 11th Test century and his first in Asia has at least given England hope that this series against the world's No1 side will not necessarily all be one-way traffic.

India have won 12 of their past 13 home Tests since England beat them four years ago. Virat Kohli's side would have fancied their chances of extending that run after witnessing England's recent travails in Bangladesh, where less than a fortnight ago in Dhaka they were bowled out inside a session to lose the Second Test inside three days.

Spin proved their downfall then. Yet despite possessing the world's most lethal slow-bowling partnership in Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, India were unable to precipitate the kind of collapse that had handed Bangladesh their first win against a major Test nation.

After captain Alastair Cook had won the toss this morning and chose to bat, England went into lunch bruised on 102 for three after losing Cook, debutant Haseeb Hameed and Ben Duckett inside the morning session.

That Ashwin and Jadeja shared those wickets would not have helped anxieties in the visiting dressing-room. However, Root and Moeen Ali batted superbly during a blemish-free afternoon session that them score 107 runs to guide their side to tea on 209 for three. And things got better for England in the evening session as Root brought up his hundred in 154 balls and Moeen his ninth Test half-century to help build on the momentum they had generated in the afternoon.

Root eventually fell for 124, caught and bowled by Umesh Yadav after India had taken the second new ball, but his stand of 179 with Moeen had put England in a position of strength on 281 for four.

However, the dismissal, with Yadav appearing to drop the ball in celebration, had to be sent upstairs by TV umpire Rod Tucker before the Australian controversially ruled the catch was good. While events elsewhere in the world made this Test match seem somewhat trivial in the grand scheme of things, the morning at least brought England some good fortune.

Hameed had said yesterday evening that the opportunity to make his Test debut against India here in the state of Gujarat, where his father Ismail was born, seemed like "fate".

The tourists would have also felt like the stars had aligned for them when Cook, leading England in a record 55th Test, won the toss and gratefully accepted first use of a pitch that will only get harder to bat on as this match wears on. …

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