Joe Root says England must not be "scared" about batting on another sharply turning wicket and have no "scars" from back-to-back defeats as they eye a 2-2 Test series draw with India.

The tourists are out of contention to play New Zealand in the ICC World Test Championship final at Lord's after India responded to a crushing defeat in the first match of the series with two resounding wins.

England can ensure it will be Australia rather than Virat Kohli's side who face the Black Caps if they come out on top in Narendra Modi Stadium in a match that starts on Thursday.

Spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel have tormented the England batsmen in the previous two matches in Chennai and Ahmedabad, generating huge turn from day one.

England were beaten inside two days in the third Test after been skittled out for 112 and 81, with Kohli stating batsmen had not shown the skill required to contend with the conditions.

India captain Kohli also expressed his frustration over so much talk of the quality of the surfaces, but there have been no complaints from the England camp and Root knows they must raise their game.

The England captain, who gave nothing away over selection, said in a news conference on Wednesday: "I think the most important thing is that we learn all the lessons from the last two Test matches and make sure we're better for it.

"It's important that if we get ourselves in a similar position in the first innings, we really make that count and try and get some scoreboard pressure early on."

Asked about Kohli's comments on England's batting, he said: "I think that as batters, if you don't score runs you will always look at yourselves, you will always look at ways to try to improve and we've certainly done that.

"We've looked at a couple of dismissals, we've look at how we are going to find ways of building big partnerships and getting some significant scores if it is a similar surface, figuring out a game plan that suits each individual and in turn get those partnerships which we know is so important in Test cricket."

He added: "I think the most important thing is that as a batting group we are very clear about how we want to play, and we go into the game full of confidence.

"We have no scars from the last two Tests, and we play in a controlled, but fearless way. We shouldn't be scared about the surface in any sort of way or the guys bowling on it.

"It's very important we stay very calm, clear about how we want to score runs and trust both defence and when we want to score as well, trust those shots that make us the players we are."

Root revealed assistant coach Paul Collingwood and another member of the backroom team have been suffering from illness, but the players were not affected ahead of a Test for which Dom Bess is expected to be recalled.

India will hope England fail another trial by spin at the Narendra Modi Stadium when Virat Kohli's side attempt to secure their place in the ICC World Test Championship final.

The tourists won the first match of the series, but back-to-back victories have ended their hopes of facing New Zealand in another final at Lord's.

In-form India only need to avoid defeat in a fourth and final match of the series, which starts in Ahmedabad on Thursday, with Australia hoping England salvage a 2-2 draw to set up a trans-Tasman showdown.

India won the third Test at the same venue by 10 wickets inside two days to take a 2-1 lead, as England were unable to contend with huge turn generated by the spinners on a much-discussed playing surface.

Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel wrought havoc to put the side who sit second in the rankings on the verge of the final in London.

Root not thinking of Australia

Of course, the situation in the series leaves England in the unusual position of trying to do old rivals Australia a favour.

"I wouldn’t see it as that. I would see it as us ending the series as a draw and having done something special in India," captain Joe Root told reporters.

"Ultimately it is about not having any baggage going into this game. [Winning] would be a monumental effort from this group of players."

 

Rahane: India planning to turn the screw

England have kept quiet about the standard of the pitches in the second and third Tests, concentrating on trying to learn from their struggles in such tough conditions.

India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane says the tourists can expect more of the same.

"The wicket will be similar to the third Test match and also the second Test in Chennai. Spinning track." the batsman said.

He added: "Talk [about the pitch] happening outside is not at all affecting Indian team. We are concentrating on what we have to do. When we tour we never complain about a pitch."

England to save their Bess for last?

The tourists went with just one frontline spinner in the third Test, with Jack Leach getting the nod ahead of Dom Bess.

Root showed he possibly ought to be more than just a part-time bowler, claiming a stunning maiden five-wicket Test haul with incredible figures of 5-8 as India collapsed to 145 in their first innings.

Bess could join Leach in the team for the last match of the series, having taken five wickets in a first Test that England won by 227 runs and impressed in Sri Lanka.

 

Key match facts

- India are yet to lose a Test at Narendra Modi Stadium versus England (W2, D1). They have only been beaten twice on the ground in the longest format, winning five and drawing six.

- England have failed to post totals of more than 178 in five of their six innings in the series. The 193 they made combined in two innings in the third Test is the fourth-fewest they have mustered in a Test match when they were bowled out in both knocks.

- Root has only been out twice when playing a conventional or reverse sweep since the start of the Sri Lanka Test tour, scoring 233 runs in the process. The other England batsmen have recorded 206 runs between them over the same period, being dismissed on 12 occasions when deploying those strokes.

- James Anderson has gone 454 deliveries without dismissing Virat Kohli in Test cricket; the India skipper has been dropped three times off his bowling in that time.

- Ashwin has dismissed Ben Stokes on 11 occasions in the longest format, almost twice the number of any other bowler The England all-rounder only averages 18 against the India spinner.

Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel once again bamboozled England as India secured a 10-wicket victory in the third Test inside two days.

Thursday's action in the day-night contest was eventful to say the least, 17 wickets falling before Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill saw the hosts to their target of 49 runs in the final session under the floodlights. 

India had also started proceedings at the crease, losing their final seven wickets for 41 as they slipped from 99-3 to 145 all out, Joe Root's maiden five-wicket haul seemingly putting the game back in the balance. 

However, the metronomic Axar struck early and often as India seized control through their spinners. The left-armer dismissed both Zak Crawley and Johnny Bairstow for ducks in his first over of the innings as he picked up 5-32, giving him stunning match figures of 11-70.  

Not to be outdone, Ashwin worked his magic once more to end with 4-48. In the process he surpassed 400 Test wickets, a feat only achieved by three other bowlers for India. 

The efforts of the duo – fellow spinner Washington Sundar also claimed the final wicket of the innings – saw England skittled for 81 in 30.4 overs, their lowest total against India in the format. 

Root – who had done so much to give his team hope in the opening session with 5-8 – battled hard to make 19 and, briefly, his partnership with Ben Stokes (25) suggested India may have more work to do in the final innings on a difficult surface. 

Yet Ashwin crucially ended Stokes' counter-attacking knock and, having also bowled Ollie Pope (12), he reached his personal landmark when Jofra Archer was out lbw for a two-ball duck. In truth, England's tail had little hope of increasing their lead to give their own spinners any hope.

Rohit and Gill rushed the home team over the finishing line, the openers ending unbeaten on 25 and 15 respectively as India moved 2-1 ahead in the series with one Test to play.


Ashwin latest to join 400 club 

Ashwin is just the 16th bowler to claim 400 Test wickets, doing so in his 77th appearance. His compatriots Kapil Dev, Anil Kumble – who sits in top spot on India's all-time list on 619 – and Harbhajan Singh have previously made it to the milestone.

Only Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan made to that number in fewer games than Ashwin, who now has 24 wickets in the series at an average of 15.70.

Tourists left in a spin

Thanks to a double century from skipper Root, England scored 578 in their first innings in the series. It was a mammoth total that set them up to secure an impressive victory in Chennai. 

Since then, though, the visitors have amassed 669 runs in five innings combined, their best score in that period being 164. Facing a trial by spin, they have been condemned to a pair of heavy defeats that ends their hope of competing in the World Test Championship final on home soil.

Captain Joe Root was England's unlikely star with the ball, claiming his first five-wicket haul as India were bowled out for 145 in the third Test. 

After managing just 112 in their first innings at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, the tourists needed quick wickets on day two to stay in the contest, India resuming their reply on 99-3. 

The hosts moved their score on to 114 without further loss in the first session, only to then endure a stunning collapse of their own, their last seven wickets falling for 41 runs.

Root grabbed the majority of them to finish with stunning figures of 5-8. His previous best in first-class cricket was 4-5, while he had also claimed a four-wicket haul in his Test career, against South Africa in Port Elizabeth in January 2020. 

His off-spin found help on a turning surface as he conceded the fewest runs in a Test five-wicket haul for an England player since Arthur Gilligan's 6-7, South Africa the opponents back in 1924.

It was also the first five-for by an England captain since Bob Willis' 5-35 against New Zealand in 1983.

Jack Leach backed up his skipper with 4-54 as India were restricted to a 33-run lead after both teams had batted once in the game, with the four-match series in the balance at 1-1.

England captain Joe Root feels fortunate to have a "battery of fast bowlers" and says both James Anderson and Stuart Broad could play in the third Test against India.

The tourists have adopted a rotation policy in Sri Lanka and India at the start of a year in which they face such a hectic schedule.

Anderson was outstanding in England's victory in the first Test at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, but missed out as Broad came into the side for a second match at the same venue in Chennai that was comprehensively won by India.

England's leading Test wicket-taker Anderson is expected to return along with Jofra Archer for the day-night Test at Motera Stadium, which starts on Wednesday, while Broad will be hoping to retain his place.

Chris Woakes and Mark Wood are also in contention to charge in with the pink ball in Ahmedabad, where England need a win to keep alive their hopes of playing New Zealand in the ICC World Test Championship final.

Root refused to be drawn on the make-up of the side and did not rule out unleashing Anderson and Broad for the first time this winter, with England mulling over whether to go with an extra seamer and just one spinner.

Asked if Anderson and Broad may have played in the same team for the last time, Root said: "I think you'd be wrong to ever write off those two to do anything.

"The records they've had, the things they have produced - especially in the last couple of years - there's a reason they are up there with the top three bowlers in the world.

"They are consistently getting better the older they get, they are using their experience to their advantage all of the time and I'm sure there will be opportunities where they get to play together in the near future and much further down the line as well.

"You are talking about two of England's greatest bowlers and the records they set will be difficult for anyone to pass. I feel like there is a lot of life left in them both and you add in guys like Jofra, Woody, Woakes, all of these skilful bowlers around them, we are building a very good team, that they are very much at the front of."

Root added: "They [Anderson and Broad] have got a chance, it's a great selection headache to have all these bowlers putting in performances and giving us real variety so we feel we can pick a team that best suits the conditions and the best make-up we think is going to balance things very well."

Archer was not risked for the second Test due to a shoulder problem but Root says the paceman is fully fit and raring to go.

"He's a world-class performer, he's got all of the skills. He can bowl high pace, swing it both ways and obviously can make it talk off the seam," said the skipper.

"Along with the rest of the guys in contention, it's a very exciting place to be. To have a battery of fast bowlers to choose from is where we want to be and keep improving moving forward."

The fit-again Zak Crawley and Jonny Bairstow will also be hoping to get the nod.

Joe Root said England will aim to exploit any self-doubt from India's 36 all-out collapse in their last pink-ball outing as the third Test gets under way on Wednesday.

India claimed a 2-1 series win on the road against Australia in January but were beaten in the opener, falling to their record low score in just 21.2 overs in their second innings.

India quickly recovered from that humiliation, and the hosts also bounced back from an opening Test loss to England to tie this series at 1-1 ahead of the third test in Ahmedabad.

Root, who earned man-of-the-match honours in the series opener after scoring a double-century in his 100th Test, hinted India's nightmare in Adelaide may play on the minds of the hosts when under the lights.

"If we can exploit that [events in Adelaide] then that's something we will look to do," Root said.

"But you have to earn the right, make early inroads, build pressure for periods of time and put balls in good areas, challenging defences.

"That will be our focus; [36 all out] is more for them to worry about, for it to be in the back of their minds."

The 30-year-old insists the tourists are in a strong position with the series tied heading into a day-night Test in the world's largest cricket venue, Sardar Patel Stadium.

In India's only previous home day-night Test, against Bangladesh in Kolkata in 2019, seam bowlers dominated and Root is hoping that similar conditions this week could play into England's advantage.

"We are 1-1 with a pink-ball game two days away," Root added. "It's a great position to be in from our perspective. It's a very exciting prospect for the group.

"Playing against India in the subcontinent you expect the ball to spin and I'm sure at some point it will.

"But if conditions are more seam-orientated, then the experience of growing up in English conditions should be in our favour.

"It's about handling those conditions as best we can and try to exploit them with ball in hand."

Moeen Ali has decided to return to England following the second Test against India, with Mark Wood and Jonny Bairstow joining the team for the next match.

After England succumbed to a 317-run loss to India on day four of the second Test in Chennai, captain Joe Root announced Moeen had chosen to leave the bubble.

Moeen was part of the squad for the two Tests against Sri Lanka in January but did not play after spending 13 days in quarantine following a positive COVID-19 test.

The all-rounder sat out the first match against India at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium but returned for the second and took eight wickets – four in each innings – on his return from an 18-month absence in the longest format.

Moeen also added an 18-ball 43 that included five maximums as England failed to hold on for a draw or chase down a victory target of 482, with India levelling the series at 1-1.

"It was not about asking him if he wanted to stay. It was a decision he chose," said Root.

"He wants to get out the bubble and that is absolutely fair enough. We respect where he is at."

England lost all 10 wickets to spin in their second innings and were bowled out for 164 on Tuesday, with Axar Patel claiming a debut five-for and Ravichandran Ashwin, who scored a second-innings century, taking his haul of wickets in the match to eight.

The tourists resumed on 53-3 but lost four wickets in the opening session and saw Root depart five balls after lunch, with Moeen's late flurry coming before the inevitable defeat.

"Credit has to go to India. They outplayed us in all three departments. We got a bit of an education," said England skipper Root.

"We have got to learn. These are the conditions you sometimes come up against. We have got to find a way to score in these conditions and take wickets.

"I think we would like to have bowled slightly better on the first day, find ways of bowling pressure, bowling six balls at one batter and just didn’t quite manage to do that, something I think we can get right in the future.

"We are 1-1 in the series with two important games to come. We are very much in this series. It is set up very nicely."

The third Test will be a day-night match in Ahmedabad and is scheduled to get under way on February 24.

Asked if he would look to rotate the team for that game, Root told Channel 4: "It's a difficult time in that respect but we have to manage the best we can.

"You look at the side you put out, there is no question they are a talented bunch of players. Questions will be asked about resting Jimmy Anderson but we replaced him with the number two bowler in the world [Stuart Broad].

"It is very tricky, players are spending long days away from their families, the fact of the matter is we've been outplayed on a wicket which has spun and is very foreign to our batting line-up.

"We've got a period now to have some honest discussions and ask how we're going to manage things. We won't beat ourselves up too much, won't get ahead of ourselves, we'll come back and be fighting for the rest of the series."

 

England squad for third Test against India: Joe Root, James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

Joe Root urged Dom Bess to find consistency after he was left out of the England squad for the second Test against India.

The tourists have opted for a new-look bowling attack in the second meeting at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, despite winning the opening match of the series by 227 runs at the same venue.

Bess drops out of the reckoning, with James Anderson and the injured Jofra Archer also missing out, paving the way for Stuart Broad to come back in and Moeen Ali to return.

Having taken five wickets in the four-match series opener and scored 59 runs with the bat, Bess was offered some words of advice by captain Root.

"It wasn't an easy decision; Dom's contributed fantastically well in these three games and has made a real impact," Root said.

"With him missing out, the message for him is to keep working at that consistency of his game, delivering that skill time and time again. We talk about building pressure over long periods of time and I think, as well as he has done, that is one area that he can improve on.

"But he is very young, very much at the start of things and this doesn't mean that he is going to be pushed back down the pecking order.

"It gives him an opportunity to step out of Test cricket, the harshest of environments, especially in these conditions against a team that plays spin so well, to take stock and work at his game.

"It gives Moeen a chance to come back into things, with all his experience. He's someone who is bowling very well in practice.

"It was a very difficult decision to make, I'm sure Bessy will be frustrated about it but that's good as well. You want that competition for places, you want guys to be playing all the time and be amongst it all

"That's certainly how he goes about his cricket. He's a wholehearted player and I expect a response from him."

Root is certainly well placed to talk about consistency, having once again underlined his brilliance last time out when he clocked up a first-innings double century in his 100th Test appearance to continue riding the wave of his fine showing against Sri Lanka.

The 30-year-old has piled on 684 runs in his previous three matches, which equates to 39 per cent of his side's total runs in Test cricket in 2021. 

Fans hoping to see the Yorkshireman showcasing his skills in the Indian Premier League will once again be disappointed this year, but Root does want to get involved in the future.

"It was a very difficult decision," he said regarding his decision not to register. 

"At some point in my career I'm desperate to try and be part of an IPL season and hopefully a few more beyond that as well.

"It's something I'd love to experience and love to be a part of, but with the amount of cricket – and Test cricket in particular – this year, I didn’t feel like it was the right time.

"I didn’t feel like I could throw all my energy into it, which I think it deserves. And I don’t think it would set English cricket up best with what's to come.

"It's a very difficult decision and hopefully next year there's an opportunity to be a part of the IPL."

The atmosphere at games is one of the IPL's most appealing qualities and the famously vociferous India fans will have a chance to make themselves heard in the second Test, with 15,000 allowed in.

Asked if he thinks it will change the dynamic of the contest, Root said: "Yes, I do. I think it will improve it massively

"I think having an atmosphere within a stadium is a massive part of international cricket.

"What makes it special, in many ways, is that interaction between the fans and the players. It makes those big moments, that noise and the build-up… it adds to it all

"Obviously, we know how passionate India is about cricket. It's a big part of life in many ways here and we're all excited about that.

"We want to be playing on the biggest stage in front of people. We're looking forward to that atmosphere and it's going to add to what has already started off as a brilliant series for us."

England will have a new-look bowling attack on duty for the second Test as they go up against an India side determined to bounce back in the series.

James Anderson, Jofra Archer and Dom Bess were all part of the XI that helped England become the first visiting nation to win a Test at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai since Pakistan in 1999, ending an eight-game unbeaten streak for the hosts.

However, none of the trio will be involved when the two teams face each other again at the same venue.

While Archer is ruled out with an elbow injury, Anderson has been rested and Bess left out of a 12-man squad. Stuart Broad seems certain to play, with the other seam-bowling spot between Chris Woakes and Olly Stone. Moeen Ali will be the second spinner; the all-rounder has not featured in Test cricket since August 2019.

Captain Joe Root admitted it was not an easy decision to give Anderson a break considering how well he performed in the opener, but England had to look at the bigger picture during such a busy year.

"Everyone's heart was in favour of him being available for this game but also you have to look at the bigger picture and ideally if he is available for two of the last three, that is a huge asset for us with the way he is bowling and his reputation, as well as his numbers and the way he has performed in recent games," Root told the media.

India, meanwhile, head into this match under pressure; they have only ever lost the first two games of a home Test series against England once previously, when they went on to suffer a 3-1 defeat in 1976-77.

Virat Kohli pointed to a failure by the bowling unit to keep England's scoring rate in check in the aftermath of the opening defeat, with slow-bowling duo Washington Sundar and Shahbaz Nadeem struggling to provide support for pacemen Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma, as well as frontline spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.

Axar Patel missed that match due to a knee injury but came through a fitness test on Thursday. Kuldeep Yadav could also get an opportunity on a pitch that, according to Ajinkya Rahane, will spin from the outset.

"I am sure it will turn from day one," Rahane said on the eve of the game. "We will have to wait and see how it behaves in the first session and take it from there."

In a boost for India, there will be fans present for the second of four matches in the series. The ground is allowed to be 50 per cent full, though there will be social distancing measures in place amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.


Captain Kohli in the spotlight

India have now lost four Tests in a row under Kohli, who departed the tour of Australia after his side had been shot out for 36 to lose the series opener in Adelaide. He returned home for the birth of his first child, with stand-in Rahane then leading the side to a 2-1 triumph.

Kohli made scores of 11 and 72 upon his return to the XI, but those numbers were not enough to stop him slipping to fifth in the International Cricket Council's Test rankings for batsmen.

Root keeps on digging in

Root underpinned England's triumph last time out with a double hundred in a mammoth first innings of 578, in the process continuing his stunning run of form following on from a hugely successful tour to Sri Lanka.

The right-handed batsman has managed 684 runs in his previous three matches, which equates to 39 per cent of his side's total runs in Test cricket in 2021. There have been useful contributions from his top-order colleagues so far overseas, but no other batsman has reached three figures in an innings during the calendar year.

Key match facts

- England have only managed to register one Test series win in India since their 2-1 tour win in 1984-85 - their successful tour in 2012 being the solitary triumph during that period (D1 L4).
- India still lead the head-to-head record with England in Tests played at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, winning five compared to the visitors' tally of four after the series opener (D1).
- England have managed to record six overseas Test wins in succession ahead of this match – victory in this game will equal their longest ever run in the format (seven in a row between 1911 and 1914).
- Rishabh Pant has a batting strike rate of 70.6 in Test cricket, only two men (with a minimum of 600 runs scored) have higher rates for India (Virender Sehwag at 82, plus Kapil Dev at 81)
- Broad (517) is three scalps away from going into sixth place on the all-time leading Test wicket-takers list, jumping above Courtney Walsh (519); the Englishman has picked up 41 wickets at an average of 14.5 since the start of 2020.

England have named Liam Livingstone in a 16-man squad for the Twenty20 series against India in March, but Test captain Joe Root and Alex Hales were not included.

Livingstone has not played international cricket since June 2017, when he scored 16 runs in a pair of T20 appearances against South Africa on English soil.

However, the 27-year-old was part of the group for the one-day series at home to Ireland last year, as well as the tour to South Africa that was cut short in December due to coronavirus concerns.

His selection comes after an impressive Big Bash tournament in Australia, though Hales – who finished as the competition's leading scorer, managing 543 at a strike-rate of 161.60 for Sydney Thunder – continues to be overlooked by the national selectors.

Root is also not included for the five-match series that offers Eoin Morgan's side further opportunities to prepare ahead of the ICC T20 World Cup, which takes place in India during October and November.

Jos Buttler – who has returned home for a scheduled break after helping England win the first Test against India in Chennai – will travel back for the white-ball games.

As well as the players in the squad, the England and Wales Cricket Board announced Jake Ball and Matt Parkinson as reserves. The party will depart on February 26, with all games to be played at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad.


England T20 squad for the tour to India: 

Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, Mark Wood.

Reserves: Jake Ball, Matt Parkinson.

Joe Root hailed James Anderson as the "GOAT of English cricket" who is "ageing like a fine wine" after England's leading Test wicket-taker produced another masterclass of seam bowling in an emphatic win over India.

The magnificent Anderson produced one of the great spells before lunch in Chennai on day five of the first match of the series, putting the tourists well on their way to a 227-run victory.

Anderson generated huge reverse swing, taking three wickets for six runs in five overs during the morning session, and India could not contend with his skillset as the 38-year-old finished with brilliant figures of 3-17.

Impressive spinner Jack Leach took 4-76 as India were bowled out for 192 after lunch, half-centuries from captain Virat Kohli (72) and Shubman Gill (50) proving to be in vain.

It was a dream 100th Test for Root, who made a sublime double century and was named man of the match after matching Michael Vaughan's record of 26 victories as skipper for England in the longest format.

Root paid tribute to the ageless Anderson after his final-day heroics.

The in-form batsman said: "He is the GOAT of English cricket. He finds ways of constantly challenging himself and getting better.

"At 38 to still be getting better and be as fit as ever is fantastic - he is a great role model. His skill level is as good as anyone you'll ever see."

Root added: "He just keeps getting better and better, like a fine wine. His skill levels are as high as ever and his fitness levels.

"He sets a great example for all the younger bowlers in our squad and I can see him playing on for many more years, which is very exciting."

On England's overall performance, Root said: "It's been a fantastic five days with the way we came back and executed the game plan, it was really, really pleasing and we'll enjoy this before getting ready to come back again."

Ben Stokes said the "phenomenal" Joe Root "makes us all feel pretty rubbish" with how easy he makes batting look after the England captain scored a record-breaking double century in Chennai.

Root became the first player to craft a double hundred in his 100th Test as England piled on the runs on day two of the series against India, closing on 555-8.

The imperious in-form skipper struck a magnificent 218 to replace Alec Stewart as England's third-highest Test run-scorer, with Stokes making a brilliant 82 on his return to the side.

Root, who reached his fifth double hundred in the longest format by coming down the track and hitting Ravichandran Ashwin for six, has now racked up 644 in his past three Tests after a dream series in Sri Lanka.

Stokes rates the Yorkshireman as the best player of spin England have ever had after his latest masterclass.

Asked about Root's exploits, Stokes said: "He makes us all feel pretty rubbish with how easy he makes batting look. I was quite surprised he ran down the wicket and hacked a six to bring up a double.

"He's in phenomenal form, just making things look very, very easy. The way that he dominates spin is incredible to watch and I don't think we've had an England batsman ever play spin in the way he does.

"He's got an option and answer for everything that's thrown at him and he's just a delight to watch at the moment."

Stokes was happy to hit the ground running after he was rested for the 2-0 whitewash of Sri Lanka and hopes the tourists can keep India in the field for another hour on day three before doing damage with the ball.

The all-rounder said: "It's nice to come back in after a bit of time off and spend some time in the middle. After putting ourselves in and being 500 and whatever we are with two wickets left going into day three, we're in a very strong position."

He added: "[There were] no thoughts whatsoever of a declaration tonight because that would be stupid if we won the toss and bat first.

"You just get as many runs as you can out here in India and if we can bat for another hour tomorrow we'd be very happy with that."

Stokes knows the England bowlers must be on the money if they are to take a 1-0 lead on a pitch that has been flat in the first two days but will deteriorate.

The vice-captain said: "Generally wickets don't get any better out here in India, especially when the heat blazes on it.

"It's going to get drier, it's going to break up, it's going to deteriorate but just because we've got out there and scored big first-innings runs, that doesn't give us the right to bowl them out twice, like we'd hope to do.

"We know we've still got a lot of hard work to do as a bowling unit here because it is tough to take 20 wickets anywhere, but out here sometimes 20 wickets is hard to come by, so we know we've got a big challenge ahead of us."

Joe Root became the first player to mark a 100th Test cap with a double century as England made India toil again on day two of the series in Chennai.

Root resumed on 128 at M. A. Chidambaram Stadium on Saturday and the captain went on to make a magnificent 218, putting on 124 for the fourth wicket with the brilliant Ben Stokes (82).

The tourists were in a commanding position on 555-8 at stumps on a day which saw the imperious Root take centre stage once again.

Yorkshireman Root moved above Alec Stewart to go third on the list of England's leading Test run-scorers with another masterclass, taking his staggering tally of runs to 644 in his last three Tests.

Having made 228 in the first innings of the first Test against Sri Lanka and a century in the second match in Galle, where England sealed a 2-0 whitewash, Root registered his fifth double century in the longest format as India bowlers were made to suffer in the heat.

Jasprit Bumrah removed Dom Sibley for 87 in the final over on day one, but Virat Kohli's side failed to make a breakthrough in the morning session on the second day.

Root was 156 not out at lunch and Stokes on 63 with England in command at 355-3 and Stokes was the only man to fall before tea, caught by a juggling Cheteshwar Pujara off Shahbaz Nadeem in the deep.

Ollie Pope made 34 on his return from a shoulder injury before he fell to Ravichandran Ashwin and Root's marathon knock was finally ended when he was trapped leg before by Nadeem, with England 477-6.

Ishant Sharma bowled Jos Buttler (30) and Jofra Archer first ball, but Dom Bess and Jack Leach were still there at the close. Rohit Sharma inexplicably dropped Bess at midwicket on 18, which just about summed up India's day.

Relentless Root leaves India in double trouble

After becoming the ninth player to make a hundred in his 100th Test on day one of the series, Root went on to etch his name in the record books.

The 30-year-old put on another exhibition of how to bat against spin, using his feet superbly, sweeping impeccably and showing incredible powers of concentration.

Root spent almost nine hours at the crease before he was trapped in front by Ashwin, hitting two sixes and 19 boundaries. Kohli offered a handshake as he made his way back to the pavilion after one of the great Test knocks.

 

Stokes hits the ground running, Ishant on the brink of landmark

Stokes missed the 2-0 whitewash of Sri Lanka last month, as he was given a hard-earned rest.

There was no rest for India in the field as the all-rounder hit the ground running in his first match of the year, clearing the rope three times and hitting 10 fours.

Paceman Ishant was impressively economical on a flat track. He was on a hat-trick after cleaning up Buttler and Jofra Archer, but Jack Leach denied him that feat.

Joe Root became the first man to mark a 100th Test cap with a double century as England continued to dominate in the first Test against India.

The captain advanced from his overnight 128 to reach 209 not out at tea, with England on 454-4 and looking to bat their hosts out of the game.

Until Saturday, the previous highest score by a batsman on his 100th Test appearance was the 184 that Pakistan great Inzamam-ul-Haq made in 2005 against India.

Former England captain Alastair Cook hailed Root as "a genius", suggesting he might yet go on to pass 300 in the innings, while Kevin Pietersen tweeted to call for the Yorkshireman to be knighted.

Speaking on Channel 4, Cook said: "He's batted India into submission in five sessions.

"It's been an absolute masterclass from him and who says he ain't going for that triple.

"He hasn't looked in any trouble whatsoever. He's an absolutely fantastic batsman, we're watching a genius play.

"He's continued where he's been all winter. The guy is in the form of his life and most importantly he's cashing in."

Last month saw Root make 228 and 186 in England's two-Test series against Sri Lanka.

Root found strong support on Saturday from Ben Stokes, who made a rapid 82 before falling to Shahbaz Nadeem, while Ollie Pope was unbeaten on 24 at tea.

Joe Root savoured a "very special" opening day of the series against India as the in-form England captain marked his 100th Test with a sublime unbeaten century in Chennai.

Root has made a dream start to 2021, scoring a double century in the first Test against Sri Lanka and crafting a hundred in the second match as the tourists sealed a 2-0 whitewash in Galle last month.

The England skipper continued his purple patch at M. A. Chidambaram Stadium on Friday, becoming only the ninth player to reach three figures in his 100th Test.

Root was unbeaten on 128 at stumps and although Dom Sibley was dismissed in the final over of the day to end a stand of 200, England are in a strong position on 263-3.

The skipper was understandably emotional on a landmark day and was grateful for some kind words from his team-mates, particularly his deputy Ben Stokes.

He said: "It's very special. Last night the guys put a little surprise together for me – some videos from some past players, and friends and family. And Ben, in particular, stood up and said some really kind words.

"What he said should stay between the two of us and the group, but Ben's a fine human being and it was really nice of him to go out of his way to say some very special things that I will hold dear forever."

"The guys have made it very special for me and I really appreciate it. It's been an amazing two days. I was a little bit emotional [at the toss]," Root added. "I couldn't even remember our team when they asked me about it.

"I was a little bit all over the place, but thankfully when I got out there, I knew it was business as normal and I had a job to do.

"For us to start this series in the way that we have, it couldn't have gone any better, bar a little blip at the end there. So, I really hope that we can build on that tomorrow and I'm obviously delighted with how things have gone personally."

Root stressed the importance of England capitalising on such a promising start.

"We've got to look to try and get as many as we can – 600, 700 if we can, really try and make the most of the first innings while it's good," he said.

"Those foot holes are starting to wear quite quickly. So, if we can bat the whole of tomorrow and maybe into day three, then things could speed up quite quickly for us and you never know what can happen from that point onwards."

Root was full of praise for opener Sibley, who faced 286 balls in a great knock and looked untroubled until he was trapped leg before by Jasprit Bumrah (2-40)

The Yorkshireman said: "That was a fantastic innings today. To come out with maybe a few question marks in his own mind about his game against spin, for him to go and put a performance early on in this series like that, against a high quality attack delivering reverse swing as well, was really impressive.

"He should take a lot of heart and confidence from that into the rest of the series. I really did feel for him – he deserved a hundred – but that's what happens when you play against good players.

"They can take wickets later on in the day and the challenge will be to try and better that partnership that we got together, try and better that tomorrow."

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