Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow combine yet again to hammer India in record run chase

England draw series that started last summer to continue red ball resurgence

On a cool, overcast morning at Edgbaston this reborn England team climbed their highest fourth-innings mountain of all time, the final steps of their ascent to a target of 378 runs sealing a seven-wicket victory over India like it was a casual stroll in the park.

As Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow scampered the final run at exactly midday it not only drew a five-match series played out over the best part of a year 2-2 but surely sent a shock wave through the game; England, under new management in Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum, are a now side to seriously fear on the chase in Test cricket.

After all, this was their fourth such feat this summer, surpassing the 277, 299 and 296 they knocked off against New Zealand and also their greatest ever chase, the day when Stokes pulled off his career-defining Ashes heist at Headingley in 2019 and 359 was taken down. This time there was not nearly as much drama.

Instead, Stokes could sit on the balcony as the next man in and watch an ice-cool pursuit driven by celestial centuries from Root, 142 not out from 173 balls, and Bairstow, unbeaten on 114 from 145. In the case of the former it was his 11th since the start of 2021 and a 28th overall, the latter a fourth in five innings of relentless form.

India, so dominant at Lord’s and the Oval when they took a 2-1 lead last summer, were practically powerless to prevent the two Yorkshiremen from finessing the final 119 runs in the space of 90 minutes on the fifth morning. The inevitability was remarkable once the early exchanges failed to produce the breakthrough the tourists so craved.

Both batters had begun the day in the 70s and, in a reverse of their roles in the chase in Leeds last week, it was Root who surged out of the garage like a purring supercar, three figures brought up from 136 balls with a series of frictionless drives and guides before his new party trick – the reverse scoop for six – dazzled the day-five crowd.

Bairstow did not have to wait too long for his 12th Test century and a second in the match, his hustled single off Ravindra Jadeja reaching the landmark from 138 balls; having propped up England’s first-innings of 284 all out with 106 – a total that had still left a 132-run deficit – there was little doubt as to the player of this mind-bending match.

It left 21 runs to win and Bairstow turned on the afterburners with a flurry of meaty shots off the beleaguered Mohammed Siraj. Root drew the scores level with a reverse-swept four off Jadeja, before a miscued repeat completed this latest slice of history.

- Guardian