CHENNAI: Joe Root urged centurion Moeen Ali and the rest of the England batsmen to put India under pressure yesterday after the visitors made a solid start in the fifth and final Test in Chennai. The tourists were 284 for four at stumps with Ali (120) and Ben Stokes (five) at the crease after they elected to bat first at Chennai’s MA Chidambaram Stadium.
Ali mounted crucial partnerships with Root (88) and Jonny Bairstow (49) to revive the England innings after the visitors lost their openers in the first hour of play. Ali’s 146-run third-wicket stand with Root remained the highlight of the innings as England, who have already lost the series 3-0, search for a consolation win.
“It would be really nice to go home with a win under our belt and we have set it up nicely today, it’s (now) about tomorrow going on and taking it forward,” Root told reporters on Friday. “And hopefully Moeen can carry on how he has played today, Stokesy can get in and play one of his mouth-watering innings he is capable of doing,” said Root.
Ali, who was promoted to number four following a rejig in England’s batting order in the Mohali Test, absorbed the pressure after Root’s dismissal to pilot the innings. “That added responsibility of batting higher up in the batting order he has taken really well on this tour and proved it with two brilliant hundreds,” said Root. Root was also responsible for the rebuilding act after the the fall of Keaton Jennings (1) and skipper Alastair Cook (10) but he missed out on what would have been his second ton of the series.
ROOT’S ‘CHILDISH’ REACTION
The Englishman was given caught behind off Ravindra Jadeja by the on-field umpire but India successfully reviewed the decision after a disturbance in the snicko suggested the ball had grazed the bat before going into the keeper’s glove. Root did not seem happy with the call as he dejectedly walked back to the pavilion but later termed his reaction as “childish”.
“I was convinced I didn’t hit it. Obviously the technology suggests otherwise… you probably just have to take it on the chin – I must have got a fine one on it,” said Root, who was seen practising on a road inside the stadium on Thursday. Ali, who was dropped on nought at mid-wicket, showed grit during his controlled knock as he carried on the good work with Bairstow. The left-right batting combine of Ali-Root and then Ali-Bairstow thwarted the Indian bowling attack which had looked dangerous in the morning session.
“Good innings from Root. Moeen Ali was the perfect foil for him. Took his time to settle down,” India’s fielding coach Ramakrishnan Sridhar said. Ishant Sharma, back in action after an illness, struck first for the hosts on a moisture-laden pitch to get Jennings caught behind for one. England’s all-time leading run-scorer Cook got past the 11,000-run mark on the first ball of the match, but he quickly fell to Jadeja, who ended up claiming three wickets. – AFP