Kohli's buoyant India out to spoil Root's 100th Test

By Sports Desk February 04, 2021

India are favourites to carry on where they left off in Australia and spoil England captain Joe Root's 100th Test in Chennai.

Depleted India defied the odds to come from behind and secure a 2-1 series win in Australia despite being without a host of key players, including captain Virat Kohli.

Kohli returns from paternity leave to lead the side after Ajinkya Rahane filled in superbly in his absence, while Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin have recovered from injuries but Ravindra Jadeja (broken thumb) misses out.

India are in pole position to seal their place in the inaugural ICC World Test Championship final against New Zealand, but England and Australia can also qualify.

In-form skipper Root will become the 15th England player to win a century of Test caps when the four-match series starts at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium on Friday.

Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Rory Burns return, while Jonny Bairstow, Mark Wood and Sam Curran have been given a rest following the recent 2-0 whitewash of Sri Lanka.

The tourists could be without Zak Crawley after the batsman injured his right wrist when slipping outside the changing room, but Ollie Pope is poised to make his comeback from a shoulder injury.

England have won just one Test series in India since 1984-85, losing four and drawing one since then other than a triumph in 2012.

 

What are the Test Championship permutations?

The postponement of the series between South Africa and Australia ensured the Black Caps will play in the first Test Championship final.

Kane Williamson's side will face India at Lord's if they beat England 2-0, 2-1, 3-0, 3-1 or 4-0.

England must win at least three matches in India to set up another final against New Zealand, so Root's men are very much outsiders. 

Australia will qualify if England win the series without winning three matches, while they will also take on their trans-Tasman rivals if the series is drawn or India come out on top 1-0.

 

Centurion Root leading by example 

Root failed to make a hundred for England last year, but the prolific captain showed class is permanent in Sri Lanka.

The 30-year-old made a magnificent 228 in his first innings of the series and struck a brilliant 186 in the second Test, making a strong statement at the start of a hectic year for England.

Root averaged 106.50 as he delivered a masterclass of how to bat against spin and will be relishing the battle with the India attack.

He is just one win away from matching Michael Vaughan's record of 26 Test wins as England skipper and achieving that feat in the Yorkshireman's 100th match would be extra special.

 


KEY MATCH FACTS

- Four of the last five Test series between the two sides have been won by England, who eased to a 4-1 victory when they last did battle in 2018.

- India have won their last 10 multi-game bilateral Test series on home soil, that run beginning after they suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of England in 2012.

- India have recorded five wins to England's three when facing off against each other at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium. India have won three in a row at the Chennai venue.

- No touring side has won at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium during the 21st century (D3 L5) – Pakistan being the last team to do so in the format (1999).

- England are on a run five away Test wins in succession – their longest such run since 1914 (seven in a row between 1911 and 1914).

Related items

  • West Indies won't ever see glory days again - Ambrose West Indies won't ever see glory days again - Ambrose

    Fast bowling icon Sir Curtly Ambrose believes it will be difficult for the West Indies to unearth players with similar talents to those from the team’s glory days of the 70s and early 90s because the current crop of players has not grasped what cricket means to the people from the region.

  • He's always spectacular these days - Curry brilliance endures in latest MVP-level showing He's always spectacular these days - Curry brilliance endures in latest MVP-level showing

    Perhaps the most incredible aspect of Stephen Curry's enduring brilliance is that nobody is surprised by it, not least Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr.

    Kerr had the best seat in the house at Chase Center as Curry produced another remarkable showcase of his unparalleled shooting ability in the Warriors' 136-97 rout of the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday.

    It was a deluge of points from Curry, who scored 49 points in just 29 minutes, responding magnificently to the 50 points scored by Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal, with whom he is engaged in battle for the NBA scoring title. 

    Twenty-four of those points came in the first quarter and he tallied 22 in the third, marking the eighth time this season he has scored at least 20 in a quarter.

    Curry went 14 of 26 from the field and 11 of 21 from the three-point line. It was the seventh game of the season in which Curry has made double-digit three-pointers. He has achieved that feat 22 times in his career and five times in his last 15 games.

    He is averaging a league-high 31.9 points per game and has racked up at least 30 in 19 of the last 21 games.

    "It seems like he's just always spectacular these days," Kerr said. "And tonight, he topped it. Really spectacular.

    "When he got going in the third, we had about 4,000 fans in the stands and you could just hear every one of them in anticipation of the ball going in the hoop.

    "It's just amazing. The skill level is matched by his confidence level, and magical things happen."

    For all his incredible feats this season, Curry is not the favourite to win what would be a third MVP, with Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets still seen as the frontrunner.

    Asked if he believes Curry is the MVP, Kerr left no room for doubt.

    "Of course, I do," Kerr replied. "I get to watch this show every single night and I have just so much admiration for what Steph does every single night not only on the floor but the way he carries himself and the way he is an example for all of his team-mates."

    Curry was a touch more reserved about his stunning run of form.

    "It's been a great run, obviously, trying to continue it," he said.

    "Nights like tonight when you want to get off to a good start knowing we should win this game, and they were going to come out and try to give themselves some life early, we wanted to take that away.

    "Offensively, just trying to create any type of space. When you see the first two [three-pointers] go down, you start to find another level of confidence even to start the game and try to create an avalanche from there."

    The Warriors will likely need a few more of those avalanches to secure the eighth seed in the play-in tournament for the playoffs. They are a game ahead of the ninth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies, but face the top two seeds in the Western Conference, the Utah Jazz and the Phoenix Suns, on Monday and Tuesday.

    They then take on the New Orleans Pelicans before rounding out the regular season against the Grizzlies on May 16.

  • Westbrook thanks Robertson for 'setting the stage' after tying triple-doubles record Westbrook thanks Robertson for 'setting the stage' after tying triple-doubles record

    Russell Westbrook thanked Oscar Robertson for setting the stage after he tied the NBA legend's record for career triple-doubles on Saturday.

    Westbrook recorded his 181st triple-double to help the Wizards to a 133-132 win over the Indiana Pacers, tallying 33 points, 19 rebounds and 15 assists.

    He hit two clutch free throws to give the Wizards the lead with a second left in overtime and then clinched the win with a stunning block of Caris LeVert's last-ditch three-point attempt.

    In his first season with the Wizards, Westbrook has racked up 35 triple-doubles, 14 of which came last month. The record holder for most in a season with 42 in 2016-17, Westbrook (22 pts, 11.6 rebounds and 11.5 assists) will average a triple-double in a season for the fourth time in his career.

    Westbrook will look to claim the outright record for triple-doubles, which Robertson has owned since 1961-62 when he became the first to average a triple-double across a single campaign, as the Wizards visit the Atlanta Hawks on Monday.

    "I'm so grateful, thankful and blessed," Westbrook said. "I take a lot of pride in doing everything to impact winning as much as I can and leave it on the floor.

    "To be in the conversation with Oscar, for one, I want to thank him because he set the stage and sacrificed a lot of things for us to be able to go out and play.

    "The times he played in and the things he was able to do back in the day has allowed me to be able to do the things I want to do today.

    "I am just grateful for him, his words and appreciative of his support as well."

    "You got to want it more than the other player," Westbrook added of the approach he takes to rebounding. "You can kind of go through the motions and kind of let the game take control of you or you can take control of the game.

    "I always try to find ways to impact and help us and do anything I can to help us win.

    "I want to make sure I leave everything I have on the floor. And when I am all said and done, I can look back and nobody can ever say that I didn't compete at the highest level or cheated the game. I can go out and compete every night and that is all I can do each and every day."

    Team-mate Bradley Beal scored 50 points for the Wizards before leaving the game with a hamstring issue.

    "We were part of Russ' historical night tonight," Beal said. "That kind of takes the cake on everything. From the history of the game to the evolution of the game to where we are now, Russ is one of the best players to ever pick up a basketball.

    "To do that on a nightly basis, it is very tough to do. I think people kind of [give him] side-eye... or whatever the case may be. But you try going out there doing it every single night... And this is Russ' fourth time [averaging a triple-double]? That just speaks volumes."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.