Bazball rides again: the new England triumph at Edgbaston as Root and Bairstow seal historic run chase
The new era of English Test cricket made the highest ever red ball run chase look easy - and ‘Bazball’ is just getting started.
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Heading into the final day of the Fifth Test against India, England fans could be forgiven for being nervously expectant of victory.
Having been set 378 to win, Ben Stokes’ side had made good inroads by stumps on day four, with Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow ticking along well into the 70s.
Requiring a further 119 on what looked set to be a cloudy day in Birmingham, it was important for the two Yorkshiremen to see out the opening 45-60 minutes of play.
Yet seeing out the opening overs of a morning is a tradition which this England side doesn’t deem necessary.
The runs came thick and fast, and Root in particular looked keen to adopt the classic ‘attack is the best form of defence’ mantra for his half of the run chase.
India tried but failed to stem the runs, and some superb stroke play and near perfect shot placement had the tourists’ methods of attack coming up short.
A win built in Yorkshire
The pair who saw England to victory in entertaining yet also collected circumstances have become the bedrock of the middle order.
With two quick wickets after tea on day four, Root and Bairstow found themselves together at the crease with the best part of four sessions of the match still remaining.
A further 269 runs were needed for victory, and with the Indian fielders buoyed by the swift removal of Alex Lees and then Ollie Pope, the pressure to avoid losing further wickets would have been heaped on the two at the crease.
Yet if they were feeling any pressure, they did an incredible job of not showing it. Both only took risks with shots that they knew would pay off, and any loose or below par delivery was more often than not dispatched away (or over) the boundary rope.
If you had to pick one shot from the fourth innings that summed up this lack of pressure, it would be the sheer brilliance and audacity of Root’s reverse scoop for six off the bowling of Thakur.
The confidence to play this during a record run chase shows just what this England side is made of.
Root ended the series on 737 runs at an average of 105.28 and no fewer than four centuries.
Welcome to ‘Bazball’
The second chapter of the Brendon McCullum era once again showed exactly how England are going to approach run chases in Test cricket.
Stokes and company have, after just four matches, made it abundantly clear that they will not fear any fourth innings target regardless of how big it may be.
England broke their own red ball record for the highest ever successful run chase, and they did it with two thirds of a day left.
The struggles of Kohli
This Test came and went without the former India captain making too much of an impact. He finished the match with just 31 runs to his name, meaning that Kohli remains without an international century since November 2019.
His runs have hurt England in the past, but it is his English counterparts who have inflicted damage on India in a Test match this time around.
What next for McCullum and Stokes?
After four exciting Test matches in quick succession, the red ball side of England is set to take a back seat.
The next instalment of Test cricket will be in mid-August when a three match series against South Africa gets underway.
Attention turns to a flurry of one day cricket, starting with a three match IT20 series against India starting at Southampton on Thursday.