Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow both scored majestic hundreds as England made history in successfully chasing 378 to win the rescheduled fifth LV= Insurance Test against India at Edgbaston and draw the series 2-2.
England needed 119 further runs to pull off their highest-ever successful run chase in Test cricket on the final morning, but rather than being a nerve-wracking affair, Root (142no) and Bairstow (114no) made a mockery of the target, guiding England home inside 20 overs.
Under cloud-laden skies, India found a bit of reverse swing early on, but their seamers failed to control it, gifting England’s in-form pair far too many boundary opportunities which they did not miss out on.
The biggest battle of the day ultimately proved to be the one between Root and Bairstow as to who would bring up their century first, with Root winning out as he notched his 28th in Test cricket, bringing it up in 136 balls, before then playing some increasingly audacious shots – including another remarkable reverse-ramp for six – as the required runs were rapidly ticked off.
Bairstow, following a slightly nervy spell in the 90s as Root raced through the gears at the other end, eventually brought up his own fine hundred – his third in successive innings, sixth in the calendar year and 12th overall – off 138 balls.
Fittingly, Root – who captained England during the first four Tests of the series last summer – ticked off the winning runs shortly after midday, England’s fourth run-chase of more than 250 this summer, extending their record, and their greatest ever, beating the Ben Stokes-inspired 359 achieved at Headingley in the 2019 Ashes.
England were no doubt favorites heading into the final morning, but a sharp rising delivery from Mohammed Siraj that whizzed by Root first up was a reminder that there could still be some twists and turns along the way as India hunted early wickets.
They had the perfect conditions to do so, but with some curious field settings and some wayward bowling to go with them, the game and therefore their hopes of securing only a fourth series victory in England soon got away from them.
Bairstow signaled his intent with back-to-back boundaries blasted off Mohammed Shami’s second over of the day, though the bowler did respond well to beat the outside edge to finish.
It was not the only occasion the ball flew past the outside edge of Bairstow’s edge, as he had the odd lazy waft outside off stump, but that was about the extent to which England’s batsmen were troubled on the final morning.
Bairstow moved into the 90s first, but he was soon overtaken by his great mate at the other end as Root played a beautiful, delicate late cut for four off Jasprit Bumrah, before then clipping another to the midwicket fence as the bowler overcorrected in line. That brought up the 200 partnership between the pair, swiftly followed by Root’s century as Siraj was the next in line for punishment.
Bairstow took a little while longer to bring up his latest hundred as he continues to enjoy a staggering resurgence in Test cricket, but did eventually reach three figures shortly before the winning runs were ticked off.