Stokes hails 'phenomenal' record-breaking England captain Root

By Sports Desk February 06, 2021

Ben Stokes said the "phenomenal" Joe Root "makes us all feel pretty rubbish" with how easy he makes batting look after the England captain scored a record-breaking double century in Chennai.

Root became the first player to craft a double hundred in his 100th Test as England piled on the runs on day two of the series against India, closing on 555-8.

The imperious in-form skipper struck a magnificent 218 to replace Alec Stewart as England's third-highest Test run-scorer, with Stokes making a brilliant 82 on his return to the side.

Root, who reached his fifth double hundred in the longest format by coming down the track and hitting Ravichandran Ashwin for six, has now racked up 644 in his past three Tests after a dream series in Sri Lanka.

Stokes rates the Yorkshireman as the best player of spin England have ever had after his latest masterclass.

Asked about Root's exploits, Stokes said: "He makes us all feel pretty rubbish with how easy he makes batting look. I was quite surprised he ran down the wicket and hacked a six to bring up a double.

"He's in phenomenal form, just making things look very, very easy. The way that he dominates spin is incredible to watch and I don't think we've had an England batsman ever play spin in the way he does.

"He's got an option and answer for everything that's thrown at him and he's just a delight to watch at the moment."

Stokes was happy to hit the ground running after he was rested for the 2-0 whitewash of Sri Lanka and hopes the tourists can keep India in the field for another hour on day three before doing damage with the ball.

The all-rounder said: "It's nice to come back in after a bit of time off and spend some time in the middle. After putting ourselves in and being 500 and whatever we are with two wickets left going into day three, we're in a very strong position."

He added: "[There were] no thoughts whatsoever of a declaration tonight because that would be stupid if we won the toss and bat first.

"You just get as many runs as you can out here in India and if we can bat for another hour tomorrow we'd be very happy with that."

Stokes knows the England bowlers must be on the money if they are to take a 1-0 lead on a pitch that has been flat in the first two days but will deteriorate.

The vice-captain said: "Generally wickets don't get any better out here in India, especially when the heat blazes on it.

"It's going to get drier, it's going to break up, it's going to deteriorate but just because we've got out there and scored big first-innings runs, that doesn't give us the right to bowl them out twice, like we'd hope to do.

"We know we've still got a lot of hard work to do as a bowling unit here because it is tough to take 20 wickets anywhere, but out here sometimes 20 wickets is hard to come by, so we know we've got a big challenge ahead of us."

Related items

  • Chahar marks half-century in style as CSK crush Punjab Kings Chahar marks half-century in style as CSK crush Punjab Kings

    Deepak Chahar produced career-best Indian Premier League figures to inspire Chennai Super Kings to a dominant victory over Punjab Kings.

    Making his 50th appearance in the competition, Chahar helped ensure Punjab's innings never got going as they were restricted to 106-8.

    He finished with 4-13 from four overs, including one maiden, Punjab never getting to grips with a challenging surface in Mumbai.

    Faf du Plessis (36 not out) and Moeen Ali (46) combined for 66 to help CSK ease to their target with 26 balls to spare, winning by six wickets.

    Mayank Agarwal went for a two-ball duck to Chahar in the opening over, misjudging a wondrous delivery that pinged the top off-stump.

    A direct hit from Ravindra Jadeja saw KL Rahul run out before the West Indian pair of Chris Gayle (10) and Nicholas Pooran (0) each fell to Chahar before the end of the powerplay.

    Deepak Hooda tamely chipped to mid-off for Chahar's fourth wicket, leaving Punjab on 26-5 in the seventh over.

    Shahrukh Khan's 36-ball 47, which included two sixes, at least made sure Punjab had something to defend, but a lack of support from the lower order meant the target was always one well within CSK's grasp.

    Moeen and Du Plessis extinguished any hopes of Punjab claiming an unlikely win, their second-wicket stand allowing the Super Kings to coast to victory despite a 15th-over blitz from Mohammed Shami that saw Suresh Raina and Ambati Rayudu dismissed.

    Chahar makes mark on landmark appearance

    Chahar let out a huge roar when he castled Agarwal and he had every right to do so after producing a delivery that nipped away from middle stump to deceive the opener.

    The subsequent dismissals owed more to a fine catch from Jadeja to get rid of Gayle and batting errors from Pooran and Hooda, but nothing should be taken away from Chahar after he tilted the game firmly in CSK's favour.

    Moeen gets things moving

    Moeen and Du Plessis showed Punjab how to bat on the surface with an excellent partnership, the England all-rounder's 46 coming off 31 deliveries, his strike rate of 148.38 the best in the contest.

    He recorded seven fours and one maximum, with Du Plessis' sole six coming off a scoop shot in the fourth over. The South African was still in at the end when Sam Curran wrapped things up after a brief wobble.

  • Fakhar and Nawaz help Pakistan fend off South Africa for series triumph Fakhar and Nawaz help Pakistan fend off South Africa for series triumph

    Pakistan sealed a 3-1 triumph over South Africa in their Twenty20 series despite almost matching a wretched batting collapse by the hosts in the Centurion finale.

    The Proteas slumped from 109-2 to 144 all out amid a display of artless batsmanship to set Pakistan just a modest victory target, yet the chasing side almost threw away the match with an implosion of their own.

    Eventually they won by three wickets with one ball to spare, Fakhar Zaman smashing 60 from 34 balls and Mohammad Nawaz clinching victory with a six when just two runs were required.

    Babar Azam's century had spurred Pakistan to a nine-wicket win in the third game of this four-match series, but where that contest, also at Centurion, was a run-fest, with both teams topping 200, this time South Africa were masters of their own downfall.

    Aiden Markram came into the match behind three successive T20 fifties, attempting to be only the third player, after Brendon McCullum and Chris Gayle, to make four in a row.

    He was the first batsman to be dismissed, however, lbw to Nawaz, and although Janneman Malan (33) and Rassie van der Dussen (52) then put on 57 for the second wicket, there was little other resistance to be found among the South Africa batsmen.

    Faheem Ashraf tormented the top order for figures of 3-17 in four overs, while Hasan Ali rebounded well from being carted for 29 in his opening two overs, finishing with 3-40.

    In Pakistan's reply, Fakhar came to the crease after Mohammad Rizwan slumped to a first-over stumping, and the left-hander soon set about the home attack, crunching five fours and four sixes before being caught as a wild swipe at Lizaad Williams sent the ball skywards.

    His departure triggered the second heavy flurry of wickets in the match, Pakistan sliding from 92-1 to 129-7, needing someone to find some composure.

    Nawaz was that man, first punishing Sisanda Magala for delivering two consecutive no-balls in the penultimate over, flogging his second free hit over the ropes. In a nervy final over, Nawaz (25 not out) picked off Williams from the fifth ball, pulling square over the boundary for the winning runs.

    Chaos reigns

    A contest littered with chaotic cricket was perhaps best summed up by the first delivery of the ninth over in Pakistan's reply. Tabraiz Shamsi's delivery was short, sat up and called for severe punishment. Even so, Fakhar looked sure to miss out on a boundary as George Linde moved to sweep up inside the boundary. Yet Linde inexplicably failed to get his body in the way of the ball. Really rather poor all round.

    Hasan heroic

    While Faheem and Haris Rauf (2-18) kept it supremely tight throughout their spells, the same could not be said for Hasan, who came in for some brutal early treatment. It takes sporting courage and skill to rebound from two horror overs, and he demonstrated such attributes by taking three wickets in his next two sets of six, including that of Magala from his final delivery.

  • Rashford a doubt for Man Utd's clash with Burnley, confirms Solskjaer Rashford a doubt for Man Utd's clash with Burnley, confirms Solskjaer

    Marcus Rashford is a doubt for Manchester United's Premier League clash with Burnley on Sunday, boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed.

    The England international did not make it off the substitutes' bench during United's 2-0 win over Granada on Thursday, a result which sealed a 4-0 aggregate victory to book a Europa League semi-final against Roma.

    Rashford – who is suffering from an ongoing foot injury – took his tally to 20 for the season in the first leg, making him the first United player to hit double figures in consecutive campaigns since Wayne Rooney 11 years ago.

    The 23-year-old has missed just three games for United this season and Solskajer said he will give Rashford as long as he needs to prove his fitness. 

    "It's a big bonus that he didn't have to put any pressure on his foot [against Granada]," Solskjaer told a media conference. "I have got to hope he can be available and not make it worse. That is the decision I have got to make, so fingers crossed.

    "He wasn't due to be on the bench really. He didn't train yesterday [Wednesday] but, just in case, he put his hand up and said 'if needed, I could do a job'. 

    "So, it is a decision I have got to make on Sunday morning. But he is important for us. It is a difficult one. You have to go by how Marcus feels in a couple of days."

    United host Burnley at Old Trafford looking to win five consecutive Premier League games for the first time since they won their first six under Solskjaer's leadership in January 2019. 

    While another three points would take them another step closer to sealing a top-four finish, it is unlikely to help them rein in leaders Manchester City, who have an 11-point lead over their neighbours, having played a game more. 

    Solskjaer is not prepared to write off United's title chances just yet, but he does concede it seems improbable that City will drop enough points to allow them back into the race. 

    "Of course we'll never give up," he said. "Manchester United will never, ever give up. This club has had too many setbacks and too many great comebacks to have it in our DNA. 

    "Is it realistic? No, probably not. When you have a team that is so consistent as Manchester City have been, you don't expect them to lose three games of the last six. 

    "As long as we do our job, we want to finish the season strong and go one game at a time."

    With a seven-point lead over Leicester City, United look well placed to improve on their third-placed finish last season. 

    While Solskjaer is pleased with his side's progress this term, he will not be satisfied until they have won the Premier League title for the first time since Alex Ferguson's last season in charge in 2012-13. 

    "You've got to make progress, step by step, that's the reality," he explained. "If we can manage second place and keep winning and get second, if Man City win all games and we win ours, you want to finish strongly. 

    "Third last year, second this, close to a trophy. It's progress. It's not the end game; the end game is winning the league. But we are not in the era of Sir Alex and we've had a transformation period since he left.

    "But it's progress, step by step, and if we do that well enough, that is when you get trophies and league titles which, of course, is our ambition."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.