Test Match Day 2: Brilliant Root puts England in control
Joe Root scored a brilliant double century and Chris Woakes took three late wickets as England continued to dominate this 2nd Investec Test Match, reaching the end of the second day 532 runs ahead of Pakistan who are 57-4 after making a disastrous start to their first innings.
Root’s innings of 254 fell just two short of Ken Barrington’s England record score at Emirates Old Trafford made fifty two years earlier, and was the 15th highest ever innings in Tests by an England batsman.
It was scintillating stuff at times and a joy to watch a batsman in such commanding form.
Root however took something of a back seat when play resumed this morning. Chris Woakes struck the first seven boundaries of the day, as well as surviving a nasty blow to his right hand, as England looked to build on their strong position of 314-4.
The first hour in fact became ‘The Chris Woakes Show’ as the Warwickshire all-rounder belied his nightwatchman status with four fours off Rahat Ali followed by an astonishing six steered over the third man boundary off a short Mohammad Amir delivery-the first six of the series no less.
Yasir Shah’s introduction into the attack saw Woakes pull the leg spinner to the mid-wicket fence and Wahab was stroked through the covers for four more, the 50 partnership arriving from 98 balls of which Woakes had scored 37.
Root had no doubt enjoyed his partner’s start to the day, but the Yorkshire man eventually added the nine runs required to his overnight 141 to reach his fifth Test 150 just before noon.
The wickets at Emirates Old Trafford this season have all been better for batting on the second day, and this proved to be the case once again as the England pair continued to dominate the Pakistan attack.
Woakes soon reached his half century off 88 balls as the runs began to flow with England sailing past the 400 mark.
So it came a bit of surprise when Woakes gave a return catch to give Yasir his first wicket in his 39th over, having added 103 with Root for the fifth wicket as England lunched on 427-5.
Ben Stokes was soon on the attack after the break hitting three fours in 10 balls, beautifully timing a leg side drive for four off Amir, then lofting Yasir to the long-on boundary before hooking Amir to mid-wicket.
Stokes had contributed 34 to a partnership of 57 when he was given out on review with hotspot showing a faint nick off Wahab that was caught by wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed.
By then Root had reached his double century-and a career best, going to the landmark with an utterly audacious reverse sweep for four to third man off Yasir.
The Yorkshire man was quite simply superb, and the couple of mistakes he did make-a mistimed pull on 143 off Amir that fell short of the fielder and an edge on 159 off Yasir that went just wide of slip, were the only blemishes in an innings that spanned 617 minutes.
England reached tea on 533-6 after a curious half hour where some cautious batting was at odds with what had preceded earlier in the day, but suitably refreshed Root effortlessly moved into another gear taking three fours off consecutive Azhar Ali deliveries and he was ably assisted by Johnny Bairstow as the pair smashed 28 runs off two overs.
A tiring Root continue to hit out, reaching his 250 off 404 balls before he top edged a pull off Wahab Riaz that was well caught by Mohammad Hafeez running in from deep mid-wicket.
Root departed for 254 to a thunderous ovation having added 57 inside 17 overs with Bairstow who continued to attack, reaching his half century from 74 balls.
When Bairstow slogged Wahab to Misbah-ul-Haq for 58, Alastair Cook called a halt with England declaring on a mammoth 589-8.
With 24 overs to face in the day Pakistan made a terrible start as England rammed home their advantage by taking four wickets.
Shan Masood had an early scare when he nearly offered a caught and bowled chance to Jimmy Anderson’s third ball, but it was Woakes who made the breakthrough in the 13th over when Mohammad Hafeez, on 18, defended hesitantly only to see the ball slide off the bat to Root at second slip with the score on 27.
And it was Woakes who struck again grabbing a catch off his own bowling as Azhar Ali chipped the ball back to the bowler for 1 to leave Pakistan on 43-2.
Younis Khan, who got off the mark with the faintest of edges that surely prevented a decent lbw appeal, then edged Stokes down the leg side to Bairstow without adding to his score and Rahat Ali produced a fairly hapless innings as nightwatchman falling to a Woakes bouncer that he could only fend to Ballance at short leg.
Woakes completed a fine day with figures of 3-18 and Pakistan at 57-4 with Masood on 30 and captain Misbah on 1 have a lot to do on the third day.
Photo © Simon Pendrigh