Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow both hit hundreds as England pulled off a record fourth-innings chase to beat India by seven wickets in the Covid-delayed fifth Test. Set 378 to win, England finished on 378 for 3, with former captain Root scoring an unbeaten 142 and Bairstow on 114 not out. Also Read | Bairstow came back, said ‘When will they learn to shut it?’: Anderson reveals dressing room chat over Kohli’s sledging
The pair put on a 269-run partnership as the game went off India’s grasp in the first session itself. Aggressive intent from both the batters helped England chase down the imposing target with two whole sessions to spare on the final day at Edgbaston.
Indian captain Jasprit Bumrah – leading the side in place of the Covid-hit Rohit Sharma – was the tourists’ player of the series with 23 wickets at 22.47. But even he didn’t manage to halt the Root-Bairstow havoc. In case of a tumble, it was Stuart Broad who was initially considered for wrapping up England’s win. But with England within touching distance of an epic chase, skipper Ben Stokes offered the chance to James Anderson.
“Because there was a new ball coming up, they thought, ‘Let’s try and finish it before the new ball. So if we lose a wicket, we’ll send Broady in and he can literally just try and hit every ball for six’. Between 67 and 75 overs or something like that. So then the deeper we got – I think it was about 20 runs left – Broady was like, ‘Right, that’s me done, someone else can can go in next’,” Anderson said on the Tailenders podcast.
“So then Stokesy comes up to me and said, ‘You’ve never hit the winning runs. So if we need four to win, and (Ravindra) Jadeja’s bowling for example, do you fancy going in and hitting the winning runs?”
“I just felt really uncomfortable with it. I thought it was a little bit too piss-takey. So I was like, ‘I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that’,” he added.
As Root and Bairstow frustrated the Indian bowlers with their free-flowing batting display, Anderson revealed no player in the dressing room was padded up for the final few minutes.
“Stuart Broad had decided he wasn’t going in, so he took his pads off. Sam Billings didn’t have his pads on. I wouldn’t put my pads on. And Ben Stokes also didn’t put his pads on. So we had no one padded up for the last 20 runs of that game. That’s how relaxed everyone was,” revealed the England paceman.