England complete record chase of 378 to beat India and level series

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Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow hit twin centuries as England’s revitalised Test side roared into the history books, breezing a record chase of 378 to floor India at Edgbaston. England completed a staggering seven-wicket success as their Yorkshire run machines ran riot with an undefeated stand of 269.

Bairstow made 114 not out for his second hun-dred of the match and his sixth this year, continuing a purple patch that has redefined his whole career, while Root’s 142no was a masterclass that took him to 28 Test tons.

England started day five needing another 119 but did it with comical ease in less than 25 overs and not a single concrete chance offered. This was nominally a series decider, held over from 2021 after a Covid postponement last September, but while victory squares the scoreline at 2-2 it barely seems fair to tether this England side to the past.

They are forging an entirely new identity under the adventurous captaincy of Ben Stokes and the guidance of head coach Brendon McCullum, deliv-ering in incredible fashion on a lofty ambition of changing the face of Test cricket. After chasing targets of 277, 296, 299 and now 378 with a flourish this summer, it is hard to argue against.

Their previous record pursuit came three years ago when Stokes produced an Ashes miracle at Headingley to reel in 359. But where that was a nail-biting heist featuring number 11 Jack Leach as an unlikely accomplice, this was achieved with ease.

The fourth day had ended with England in full control on 259 for three, with both batters into the 70s and India looking increasing weary in the field. But conditions in the morning gave the tourists cause for optimism.

There was thick cloud cover overhead and gloomy enough light to require floodlights from the start of play. Mohammed Siraj was given first chance to exploit the conditions and his first two deliveries misbehaved slightly, the first leaping off a length and the second jagging back in.

It was a slight surprise to see India quickly call for a change of ball and, when the umpires agreed, Bairstow soon set about knocking the replacement out of shape. With Mohammed Shami searching for an outside edge he peeled off back-to-back bounda-ries through point.

Root was initially content to rotate the strike with singles and had a moment of minor fortune when an under-edge skimmed past his stumps, past the wicketkeeper and away for four more. By the time Shami conceded four byes down the leg side, the target had already dipped into double figures.—AFP

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