England 277 for 7 (Root 65*, Swann 19*) v IndiaLive scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Joe Root’s impressive Test debut continued on the second day © Getty Images
Matches: India v England at Nagpur
Series/Tournaments: England tour of India
The final Test continued to develop in slow-motion on the second day in Nagpur, but England will have been content with their morning’s work as they kept India in the field. Joe Root and Matt Prior, who both reached vital half-centuries, carried their sixth-wicket stand to 102 before India had two swift breakthroughs. But Graeme Swann remained with Root until the interval to maintain England’s ambitions of passing 300.
Root’s highly accomplished Test debut, which began shortly before tea on the first day, spanned 200 deliveries by lunch. His half-century came from 154 balls and even the loss of two quick wickets did not shake his concentration. If anything, it prompted a few more attempts at innovation with some deft paddles and sweeps that would have made Graham Thorpe proud. His one nervous moment came on 64 when he had to dive full-length to beat a direct hit from Gautam Gambhir at cover.
Swann, meanwhile, played a sensible innings to ensure the innings did not fritter away. Off the mark with a meaty clip through square leg, he twice lofted boundaries over deep midwicket against the spinners – the first a full delivery slog-swept and the second as he chipped down the pitch at Ravindra Jadeja.
England resumed on 199 for 5 and the familiar pattern of dead-batted blocks was the order of the day. The first boundary came via an outside edge from Prior against Ishant Sharma which summed up the state of the surface as the nick carried half to MS Dhoni, who was already standing reasonably close.
Sharma’s first spell lasted three overs – he could only operate in short bursts – then it was a return to all-spin which prompted both batsmen to remove their helmets in favour of England caps, Prior’s slightly more worn and sweat-stain than the crisp, fresh-out-of-packet, version Root was wearing. This really could have been Test cricket out of the 1980s in the subcontinent.
Steadily, though, England did begin to make useful progress. Any width was latched onto by both players as Root cut Piyush Chawla through point and Prior repeated the effort against Jadeja and another took him to his fifty. Curiously, both Jadeja, and more so Chawla, were given a bowl before Pragyan Ojha, but in the end the breakthrough came from the man who now appears the fourth-choice spinner having begun the series tipped to be the major threat.
R Ashwin switched his line to around the wicket and floated a straight delivery past Prior’s outside edge. Prior was aghast that he had managed to miss the delivery while Ashwin’s celebrations were those of relief as much as joy.
Although this isn’t a surface where anything is likely to happen quickly, India produced back-to-back wickets as Dhoni, in one of his more alert and innovative pieces of captaincy in what has been a passive series for him, immediately withdrew Ashwin from the attack in favour of Sharma.
Barely before Twitter fingers and commentators had started to question the move, Sharma found reverse-swing to trap Tim Bresnan in front of middle and leg. Sharma, though, could not bowl long spells and the movement he found reinforced the feeling Dhoni would have been better served with another seamer.