England seized the initiative in the fifth Test match with India on Saturday, batting their way to 385-7 at the close of play to hold a strong advantage heading into Day 3.
India were bowled out for a rather feeble 148 on Day 1 and now have a mountain to climb, with England sitting 237 runs ahead of them and counting.
Here’s the scorecard from another excellent day’s work for the hosts at the Oval:
|Cook||c Vijay||b Aaron||79||183||9||0|
|Ballance||c Pujara||b Ashwin||64||117||13||0|
|Bell||c Dhoni||b I Sharma||7||16||0||0|
|Buttler||c Ashwin||b I Sharma||45||73||9||0|
|Woakes||c Dhoni||b B Kumar||0||3||0||0|
There were strong performances all the way through the English order, with captain Alastair Cook leading by example from the first ball.
Cook batted his way to 79 with a display of excellent batting, but he was thanking his lucky stars on a few occasions.
A cast-iron LBW decision went in favour of the England skipper early on, before being dropped several times around the field in an innings that looked as though it would never end.
Such luck led Piers Morgan to take back his past criticism of Cook—well, sort of:
I was wrong about Alastair Cook. He IS brilliant.... at not getting caught. #Oval— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) August 16, 2014
Varun Aaron eventually dismissed the England captain with an excellent delivery, from which Murali Vijay made no mistake with the catch.
The damage was done by Cook, though, and his teammates continued in a similar vein as they put India to the sword.
Gary Ballance was next to reach the half-century, chalking up 64 runs in yet another impressive display for the Yorkshire star.
The 24-year-old has been in remarkable form since beginning his Test-cricket career, and as Investec Cricket revealed, the statistics are there to back that up:
Gary Ballance's Test average of 70.4 in England is the fifth highest, 500+ runs (only Bradman, Amla, S. Waugh and Dean Jones have higher).— Investec Cricket (@InvestecCricket) August 16, 2014
While Ballance produced another terrific knock, the star of Day 2 for England was Joe Root, who sat on an unbeaten 92 at stumps.
Though closing in on the century, it’s reaching 50 that earned Root a place in the history books, becoming just the third Englishman to reach the half-century in every Test match of a series—per Sky Sports Cricket:
The 23-year-old handled everything that the Indian bowling order threw at him on Saturday, showing good patience while attacking at the right times, too.
Root will come back in with Chris Jordan on Day 3 as England look to put both the Test and the series to bed, and barring a major mishap, they should be able to handle that comfortably.
Cook will likely declare if England cross the 450 mark on Sunday, giving India an enormous mountain to climb.