How often do we see a number 11 batsman getting crucial runs and bring his side back into the game? Well, it’snot very often, in fact, it’s a peculiarity. Batting with the tail is an art, which was supremely demonstrated by Joe Root in the first Test against India at Trent bBridgeback in 2014. India toured England for a five-match series with the series opener being played at Trent Bridge. The Test saw few records being scripted with the most famous one being the highest tenth-wicket stand of 198 runs between Joe Root and James Anderson.
Winning a Test match in England is always special and India did reasonably in the first innings to fancy their chances for a precious overseas win. But, the mind-boggling partnership between James Anderson and Joe Root ended India’s hope for a win. The 198-runs stand between them overhauled the previous best partnership of 163 between Phil Hughes and Ashton Agar. Meanwhile, James Anderson also recorded his finest Test innings total, which is also the highest for a No.11 batsman.
India won the toss and opted to bat first. They lost a wicket early when Shikhar Dhawan nicked one to Matt Prior off James Anderson. Murali Vijay played brilliantly for his 146 and ensured India were in a good position. At 344 for 5, a total of 400 above looked achievable with MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja at the crease. MS Dhoni looked good for a ton but was unfortunate to have been run out on 82. And a middle-order collapse saw India being precariously placed at 346 for nine. They lost four wickets for a couple of runs and England bowlers did a commendable job in putting India on the back foot.
India’s tenth-wicket stand
Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami were at the crease and the expectations were minimal considering the kind of rhythm England bowlers were in. Not many are aware of Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s batting skills and Shami, on the other hand, is a big hitter of the cricket ball. But, the duo, on this occasion, showed monk-like temperament and steadied the Indian ship when none expected them to do so. India had 457 runs on the board and the pressure was now on England.
England were off to a shaky start, losing Alastair Cook early. After a solid third-wicket partnership of 125 runs between Gary Ballance and Sam Robson, England kept losing wickets at regular intervals and were struggling at 298 for 9. Stuart Broad provided solid resistance but fell prey to Bhuvneshwar on 47.
Anderson-Root to the rescue
Wickets kept tumbling, but Joe Root stood like a rock at the other end. He was running out of partners but James Anderson combined really well to fight fire with fire. When Liam Plunkett was cleaned up by Bhuvneshwar for 7, England were 159 runs behind from India’s first innings total. England needed something miraculous to come closer to India’s total, let alone overhauling them.
Root was batting on fifty when Anderson took guard. Root had the option of keeping most of the strike to himself and try to garner as much runs as possible. But, he opted to trust his partner and Anderson didn’t disappoint. Anderson started dealing in boundaries, he reverse-swept Jadeja on the very fifth delivery that he faced and collected four runs. In fact, he scored his first 16 runs off four much-needed boundaries. Root, at the other end, continued in the manner he is known for and soon the duo accounted for fifty runs between them. When the third day came to an end, England were 352 for 9 and there was a ray of hope.
Next day, they had to start all over. The momentum had to be regained, Indian bowlers were now fresh and all they needed was just one wicket. The moment was tempting for India as they were so close but Root and Anderson continued from where they left the previous evening. Anderson once again started his account on Day 4 with a boundary to Bhuvneshwar and England were slowly but steadily trying to get there.
Root batted with immense confidence brought up his fourth Test ton. On 45, Anderson was dropped by Murali Vijay at gully, a difficult chance but had to grab at this level. Soon, Anderson hit Shami for a boundary and reached his maiden Test fifty, which came in just 61 deliveries. It was a huge achievement for Anderson and the crowd acknowledged this moment with elation.
England were now looking solid and the pressure shifted to India. The duo continued to score runs and few overs later, India’s total was exceeded when Jadeja was driven by Root in 132nd over. The first session of Day 4 belonged solely to England as Anderson and Root garnered 133 runs in 34 overs without losing a wicket.
In the very second over after Lunch, Root brought up his 150 with an on-drive to Ishant Sharma. India finally managed to break the partnership when Anderson was caught at slips off Bhuvneshwar, which was also his fifth wicket. Anderson missed out on a century but England had achieved bigger goals. They had a healthy lead of 39 runs while Root remained unbeaten on 154. This was inarguably one of the best resistances by the last pair in Test cricket. They batted for 53.2 overs and more importantly milked 198 runs out if it.
This Test saw the most number of runs being scored by the tenth-wicket, both the teams combined. A total of 313 runs were scored at an awe-inspiring average of 156.50 by the tenth wicket and bettered the previous best by 83 runs.
With almost five sessions left in the game, a result looked highly unlikely. India had a trail of 39 runs in the second innings and a draw looked on the cards. At the end of Day 4, India were well placed at 167 for 3. India played out 123 overs in the second innings and had 391 runs on the board. The game ended in a draw as India played out the entire three sessions on Day 5.