Dom Bess took four wickets as England survived Rishabh Pant's counter-attack to end day three of the first Test in Chennai 321 runs ahead of India in an entertaining contest.

England were bowled out for 578 and India, after initially toiling, closed 257-6 thanks to a sparkling knock from Pant at M. A. Chidambaram Stadium.

Bess snared home skipper Virat Kohli for 11 and vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane for one, before putting an end to Pant and Cheteshwar Pujara's rearguard, leaving England in a strong position to take the lead in the four-Test series.

The tourists added a further 23 runs for their final two wickets in the opening hour of Sunday's session, with Bess (34) falling lbw to Jasprit Bumrah and James Anderson missing a sweep against Ravichandran Ashwin for a single run.

India's task of chasing down England's tally was made all the more difficult when reduced to 154-4 at tea, including the loss of Kohli for just 11 when caught at short-leg by the bowling of Bess.

Kohli's dismissal came after Rohit Sharma was sent packing by Jofra Archer for six and Shubman Gill (29) was undone by Anderson's diving catch after averaging a run-a-ball up to that point.

Bess rammed home England's advantage by taking Rahane, who went to a superb Joe Root catch after chipping a drive to short cover, but India - 73-4 at that point - finally steadied the ship through Pujara and Pant.

Pujara racked up 11 fours from 143 balls en route to 73, though it was Pant who helped make a more telling dent in England's tally with nine fours and five sixes as he targeted the spin of Jack Leach.

However, Bess returned and took both Pujara and Pant, the latter being caught at deep extra by Leach for 91 from 88 balls.

Ashwin and Washington Sundar frustrated England late in the day, ending the session on eight and 33 not out respectively.

Hasan Ali ripped out South Africa's lower order before the visitors' spinners kept them in an intriguing contest with Pakistan.

Hasan (5-54) claimed the second five-wicket haul of his Test career as the Proteas were bundled out for 201, giving Pakistan a first-innings lead of 71 on day three of the second Test.

Keshav Maharaj (2-74) and George Linde then shared five wickets to prevent the hosts from pulling away, although Faheem Ashraf (29) and Mohammad Rizwan (28 not out) combined for a vital sixth-wicket stand of 52.

Slow left-armer Linde (3-12) persuaded Faheem to slice to Anrich Nortje at backward point in the penultimate over, but a score of 129-6 at stumps means Pakistan's lead is 200 on a surface already displaying variable bounce.

South Africa resumed on 106-4 in their first innings, with plenty of their hopes pinned on Quinton de Kock. Unfortunately, the captain could only add five to his overnight 24 before being bowled when driving at Shaheen Afridi.

Afridi was also responsible for running out Wiaan Mulder, who pushed for two down to fine leg and departed for 33, ending a 49-run stand with Temba Bavuma, who was left high and dry on 44 not out.

That was largely down to Hasan, who bowled Linde for 21 before rearranging Maharaj and Nortje's stumps.

Kagiso Rabada became the fourth South African run out in the series but made amends by trapping Imran Butt lbw for a duck. That was part of a masterful new-ball spell with Nortje as the South Africa pacemen began the innings with 25 dot balls.

Maharaj still came into the attack early and wheeled through 21 of the 51 overs bowled, having Abid Ali caught behind sweeping for 13 and pinning Babar Azam lbw for eight - the third time in four innings the Pakistan captain has fallen to South Africa's premier spinner.

Linde was able to offer Maharaj far more effective support this time around, having lacerated the little finger on his bowling hand during the first innings, and had Azhar Ali leg before for 33 and Fawad Alam pouched at short leg.

PROFLIGATE PROTEAS

After Nortje - operating at a blistering pace just shy of 150 km/h - and Rabada put the shackles on Pakistan and Maharaj and Linde got among the wickets, a route to a series-levelling victory was starting to open up in Rawalpindi. However, Faheem was dropped on nought by Dean Elgar at slip off Linde and next ball Rizwan edged Maharaj to Rassie van der Dussen at silly point, only to be similarly spared. In the final analysis of a low-scoring contest, those mistakes might look absolutely dire.

TOUGH START AT THE TOP FOR BUTT

Butt's exit without troubling the scorers continued a meagre start to the 25-year-old's Test career. A first-innings 15 here is his best effort in four attempts. There are few sterner examinations to be had for Test openers as when Rabada and Nortje are in the mood; however, Butt must earn the right to sail in less choppy waters.

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."

Joe Root became the first player to mark a 100th Test cap with a double century as England made India toil again on day two of the series in Chennai.

Root resumed on 128 at M. A. Chidambaram Stadium on Saturday and the captain went on to make a magnificent 218, putting on 124 for the fourth wicket with the brilliant Ben Stokes (82).

The tourists were in a commanding position on 555-8 at stumps on a day which saw the imperious Root take centre stage once again.

Yorkshireman Root moved above Alec Stewart to go third on the list of England's leading Test run-scorers with another masterclass, taking his staggering tally of runs to 644 in his last three Tests.

Having made 228 in the first innings of the first Test against Sri Lanka and a century in the second match in Galle, where England sealed a 2-0 whitewash, Root registered his fifth double century in the longest format as India bowlers were made to suffer in the heat.

Jasprit Bumrah removed Dom Sibley for 87 in the final over on day one, but Virat Kohli's side failed to make a breakthrough in the morning session on the second day.

Root was 156 not out at lunch and Stokes on 63 with England in command at 355-3 and Stokes was the only man to fall before tea, caught by a juggling Cheteshwar Pujara off Shahbaz Nadeem in the deep.

Ollie Pope made 34 on his return from a shoulder injury before he fell to Ravichandran Ashwin and Root's marathon knock was finally ended when he was trapped leg before by Nadeem, with England 477-6.

Ishant Sharma bowled Jos Buttler (30) and Jofra Archer first ball, but Dom Bess and Jack Leach were still there at the close. Rohit Sharma inexplicably dropped Bess at midwicket on 18, which just about summed up India's day.

Relentless Root leaves India in double trouble

After becoming the ninth player to make a hundred in his 100th Test on day one of the series, Root went on to etch his name in the record books.

The 30-year-old put on another exhibition of how to bat against spin, using his feet superbly, sweeping impeccably and showing incredible powers of concentration.

Root spent almost nine hours at the crease before he was trapped in front by Ashwin, hitting two sixes and 19 boundaries. Kohli offered a handshake as he made his way back to the pavilion after one of the great Test knocks.

 

Stokes hits the ground running, Ishant on the brink of landmark

Stokes missed the 2-0 whitewash of Sri Lanka last month, as he was given a hard-earned rest.

There was no rest for India in the field as the all-rounder hit the ground running in his first match of the year, clearing the rope three times and hitting 10 fours.

Paceman Ishant was impressively economical on a flat track. He was on a hat-trick after cleaning up Buttler and Jofra Archer, but Jack Leach denied him that feat.

Joe Root became the first man to mark a 100th Test cap with a double century as England continued to dominate in the first Test against India.

The captain advanced from his overnight 128 to reach 209 not out at tea, with England on 454-4 and looking to bat their hosts out of the game.

Until Saturday, the previous highest score by a batsman on his 100th Test appearance was the 184 that Pakistan great Inzamam-ul-Haq made in 2005 against India.

Former England captain Alastair Cook hailed Root as "a genius", suggesting he might yet go on to pass 300 in the innings, while Kevin Pietersen tweeted to call for the Yorkshireman to be knighted.

Speaking on Channel 4, Cook said: "He's batted India into submission in five sessions.

"It's been an absolute masterclass from him and who says he ain't going for that triple.

"He hasn't looked in any trouble whatsoever. He's an absolutely fantastic batsman, we're watching a genius play.

"He's continued where he's been all winter. The guy is in the form of his life and most importantly he's cashing in."

Last month saw Root make 228 and 186 in England's two-Test series against Sri Lanka.

Root found strong support on Saturday from Ben Stokes, who made a rapid 82 before falling to Shahbaz Nadeem, while Ollie Pope was unbeaten on 24 at tea.

Joe Root savoured a "very special" opening day of the series against India as the in-form England captain marked his 100th Test with a sublime unbeaten century in Chennai.

Root has made a dream start to 2021, scoring a double century in the first Test against Sri Lanka and crafting a hundred in the second match as the tourists sealed a 2-0 whitewash in Galle last month.

The England skipper continued his purple patch at M. A. Chidambaram Stadium on Friday, becoming only the ninth player to reach three figures in his 100th Test.

Root was unbeaten on 128 at stumps and although Dom Sibley was dismissed in the final over of the day to end a stand of 200, England are in a strong position on 263-3.

The skipper was understandably emotional on a landmark day and was grateful for some kind words from his team-mates, particularly his deputy Ben Stokes.

He said: "It's very special. Last night the guys put a little surprise together for me – some videos from some past players, and friends and family. And Ben, in particular, stood up and said some really kind words.

"What he said should stay between the two of us and the group, but Ben's a fine human being and it was really nice of him to go out of his way to say some very special things that I will hold dear forever."

"The guys have made it very special for me and I really appreciate it. It's been an amazing two days. I was a little bit emotional [at the toss]," Root added. "I couldn't even remember our team when they asked me about it.

"I was a little bit all over the place, but thankfully when I got out there, I knew it was business as normal and I had a job to do.

"For us to start this series in the way that we have, it couldn't have gone any better, bar a little blip at the end there. So, I really hope that we can build on that tomorrow and I'm obviously delighted with how things have gone personally."

Root stressed the importance of England capitalising on such a promising start.

"We've got to look to try and get as many as we can – 600, 700 if we can, really try and make the most of the first innings while it's good," he said.

"Those foot holes are starting to wear quite quickly. So, if we can bat the whole of tomorrow and maybe into day three, then things could speed up quite quickly for us and you never know what can happen from that point onwards."

Root was full of praise for opener Sibley, who faced 286 balls in a great knock and looked untroubled until he was trapped leg before by Jasprit Bumrah (2-40)

The Yorkshireman said: "That was a fantastic innings today. To come out with maybe a few question marks in his own mind about his game against spin, for him to go and put a performance early on in this series like that, against a high quality attack delivering reverse swing as well, was really impressive.

"He should take a lot of heart and confidence from that into the rest of the series. I really did feel for him – he deserved a hundred – but that's what happens when you play against good players.

"They can take wickets later on in the day and the challenge will be to try and better that partnership that we got together, try and better that tomorrow."

South Africa face a battle to avoid another first-innings deficit after Anrich Nortje's fine work with the ball was undone by a rocky reply to Pakistan's 272 in the second Test.

Pakistan had made 145-3 on day one before rain intervened and Nortje was the cause of their frustration when play resumed on Friday, snaring 5-56 to put the hosts in the field before tea.

But the Proteas' solid early efforts with the bat - including a string of boundaries - were disrupted by Hasan Ali, who removed Dean Elgar (15) and Rassie van der Dussen from consecutive deliveries.

With those wickets right at the end of the second session, the day turned and Faf du Plessis followed to Faheem Ashraf for 17.

Nauman Ali - sublime in the first Test as Pakistan dominated - then teed up a simple but crucial catch for Shaheed Afridi to remove Aiden Markram (32), reducing South Africa to 81-4 before a mini-recovery to 106 without further loss preceded the close of play.

It ended a day of two halves as the Proteas, just like a day earlier, enjoyed a productive first session, with Babar Azam unable to add to his overnight score of 77, edging Nortje to second slip from just the second ball of the day.

Fawad Alam (45), who had held up the other end of a vital partnership on Thursday, swiftly followed, too, run out with a superb direct hit from Temba Bavuma.

Faheem steadied the Pakistan innings slightly, although Nortje's decision to take the second new ball soon paid dividends as he halted Mohammad Rizwan (18) in his next over.

That dismissal ended a promising stand of 41 and Faheem eventually ran out of partners, still unbeaten on 78 as Nortje concluded the innings and his five-for with fierce deliveries to Nauman and Shaheen in the same over.

Only if South Africa can regain some composure with the bat will Nortje be able to celebrate his contribution to a much-needed win, which would be their first in 14 Tests on the subcontinent.


HASAN ALI HAVING HIS SAY

Hasan has endured a tough time with injury in the past few years, returning to the Test arena in this series for the first time since January 2019. If the fast bowler was merely playing a supporting role to the spinners in the opening match last week, this was a more telling contribution, potentially changing the course of the result.

SOUTH AFRICA TURN TO SKIPPER

Quinton de Kock would appear to be taking charge of his final Test match as South Africa captain but may now have to rediscover his best form to make sure it is not a losing swan song. The skipper has not made a Test fifty since January 2020 or a hundred since October 2019, yet the Proteas were reeling as he arrived at the crease on Friday, able to settle the innings a little by dashing to an unbeaten 24 at stumps.

Joe Root once again led from the front for England, marking his 100th Test match with another glorious hundred against India in Chennai.

Visiting captain Root came to the crease before lunch on day one of the first Test after the tourists lost Rory Burns and Dan Lawrence, the latter for nought, with the score on 63.

Alongside opener Dom Sibley, who was trapped lbw for a typically robust 87 by Jasprit Bumrah from the final ball of the day, Root came through a stern examination before making hay as the India attack tired.

It was another sparkling display from the 30-year-old right-hander, whose 128 not out followed scores of 228 and 186 during last month's 2-0 win in Sri Lanka and left England 263-3 at stumps.

Rory Burns was back at the top of the England order having sat out the previous tour due to the birth of his first child and the Surrey left-hander looked in fine touch after Root won the toss, delightfully clipping Ravichandran Ashwin through midwicket after he and Sibley brought up the fifty partnership.

But Ashwin (1-68) had his revenge in an awful moment for Burns, who misjudged a reverse sweep to loop a simple catch to wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant and depart for 33.

Lawrence was promoted up the order after Zak Crawley was ruled out with a sprained wrist, and India skipper Virat Kohli decided to see how he might fare against quality pace bowling. He soon had an answer as Bumrah (2-40) found reverse swing to pin the Essex man in front.

Root survived a strong lbw appeal from Ishant Sharma and he and Sibley were forced to dig in against some high standard bowling either side of lunch.

Again displaying impeccable balance and judgement, Root initially put away the sweep shot that served him so well in Sri Lanka and was watchful against Ashwin and slow left-armer Shahbaz Nadeem on a surface displaying more bounce than expected.

He started to move through the repertoire when all-rounder Washington Sundar entered the attack. The partnership was 77 when England reached tea at 140-2, with Sibley through to a half-century.

They motored on in the evening session, with Root reaching three figures with a trademark tuck behind square into the leg side before shedding his earlier inhibitions and bludgeoning Ashwin for a slog-swept six. He must continue on Saturday without Sibley, whose 286-ball vigil came to a cruel end.

England captain Joe Root has become the ninth player in history to score a century in his 100th Test match.

The 30-year-old made his milestone appearance on day one of the first Test against India in Chennai on Friday.

During a terrific third-wicket stand with Dom Sibley, Root marked a memorable day with the 20th Test ton of his international career off just 164 balls.

Only eight players have previously celebrated a century of Test caps by scoring 100 runs, the last being Hashim Amla, who scored 134 for South Africa against Sri Lanka in January 2017.

The highest such score for a centurion is 149, set by Gordon Greenidge for the West Indies against England back in April 1990.

Root is just the third Englishman on the list, following Colin Cowdrey in 1968 and Alec Stewart in 2000.

England lost Rory Burns for 33 and Dan Lawrence for a duck before Root and Sibley began to nullify the India attack.

England were 227-2 as Root celebrated a third century in as many Tests, with Sibley on 83 from 250 deliveries.

India all-rounder Axar Patel has been ruled out of the opening Test against England, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced on Friday.

Patel, 27, will sit out the first of four Tests after complaining of pain in his left knee following Thursday's training session.

As a result, spinners Shahbaz Nadeem and Rahul Chahar have been added to the squad, with the opening Test due to get underway in Chennai on Friday.

India are coming off a series victory over Australia, where they were depleted due to injuries in the blockbuster showdown.

Virat Kohli's India have managed to win each of their last 10 multi-game bilateral Test series played on home soil, that run beginning after they suffered a 2-1 series defeat at the hands of England in 2012.

No visiting men's Test side have beaten India at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium during the 21st Century (D3 L5) – Pakistan being the last team to do so in the format (1999).

England have managed to record five overseas Test wins in succession ahead of this match - their longest such run since 1914 (seven in a row between 1911 and 1914).

Joe Root is set to become the 15th man to appear in 100 Test matches for England and has the chance to equal Michael Vaughan's record of 26 Test wins as England skipper (currently 25).

Joe Root is used to reaching milestones, but the batsman will bring up a special Test century when he leads England in the series opener against India.  

For Root, the game in Chennai – the first of four in the series – will see him make his 100th Test appearance. He will become just the 15th Englishman to get to the landmark in the format and the 69th overall. 

The fresh-faced 21-year-old who made his debut in India in 2012 is now a fresh-faced 30-year-old considered one of the best in the world, with his memories of that maiden outing still helping to shape the player he is.

"Walking out for the first time in an England shirt would probably be the proudest moment," he said.

"I look back at walking out to bat and seeing Kevin Pietersen at the other end, someone I watched as a teenager and as a kid growing up, and I just couldn't stop smiling. I was living my childhood dream and have been ever since.

"Whenever I'm going through a lean spell or things aren't quite falling for me, I try to look back at that moment and remember what that feeling was like – almost try and embrace that really excitable young lad and bring that into the current situation."

THE HIGHS AND LOWS AHEAD OF A BUSY YEAR 

To say 2021 will be a busy year for Root is an understatement. While not currently part of England's plans in Twenty20 cricket, meaning he seems set to miss out on the World Cup in India in October and November, there is plenty on the Test captain's plate.  

The tour to India will see England play four of their scheduled 17 Tests across the calendar year, a schedule that includes a home series against the same opponents, the visit of ICC Test Championship finalists New Zealand and, after that busy summer, the small matter of an Ashes tour.  

He made an outstanding start with 426 runs on the recent tour of Sri Lanka, helping England secure a 2-0 series sweep that extended their winning streak overseas to five matches, their best run away since 1914.  

Yet Root went into that tour off the back of a below-par year. His top score in 2020 was 68, though he still finished with an average of 42.2, narrowly better than 2018 (41.2) and 2019 (37). The right-hander managed as many three-figure scores in January as he recorded across the previous two years combined.  

If England are to prosper on what will undoubtedly be a long and tough road ahead, Root will need to lead from the front. Captaincy has seen his batting numbers suffer – he averages 45.7 as skipper, compared to 52.8 beforehand – but the signs are some tinkering during time off has allowed him to rediscover his best form at just the right time.

RUNS ON TOUR, FANTASTIC AT FOUR 

India has been a happy destination for Root on previous trips, including hitting 124 in the drawn series opener on the 2016 tour. It was also the country where he made his Test bow, four years earlier. Batting at six, an innings of 73 offered a demonstration of his undoubted skill. 

The Yorkshireman has had plenty of other good moments against India: they are one of five opposing nations he has scored over 1,000 Test runs against. Only Alastair Cook (seven) has managed it against more countries for England.  

Australia is also on that list for Root, who will be hoping to improve on a career average of 38 when he heads Down Under again later this year. His first tour there in 2013-14 was particularly tough, with a run of low scores leading to him being left out of the XI in Sydney. It was a rare low point, while also serving as motivation to make sure it never happened again.  

His 2017-18 tour was more productive, albeit without a three-figure score. Conversion rates are often used as a measurement when comparing the leading names, and Root’s numbers – 19 centuries but 49 scores between 50 and 99 – have been used against him when held up alongside Virat Kohli, Steve Smith and Kane Williamson.  

The needs of the team have seen him moved up and down the order, away from his favoured place at four. That position has seen him score 10 of his Test hundreds, while only Kevin Pietersen (6,490) and Denis Compton (4,234) have amassed more runs when occupying that spot for England.  

"I know previous captains have preferred to get out there early and just get amongst it but I quite like to split the two and to really focus on my batting," he said in November 2019 during a tour to New Zealand. "I've found over time that, generally, I've consistently played better in that position."  

The numbers back up his statement; Root has a 52.2 average when listed at four in the batting order. Only at five (69.1) has he done better, albeit with a far smaller sample size.

ENGLAND EXPECTS AND THE PURSUIT OF TENDULKAR 

During his brilliant double hundred in the first Test in Sri Lanka, Root became the seventh Englishman to reach 8,000 runs in the format.   

By the end of the trip, he had moved past Geoffrey Boycott, Pietersen and David Gower on the all-time run-scoring list for his country – and it is unlikely he will have to wait long to overtake two more legendary names.  

Root’s tally after 99 Tests stands at 8,249 runs. Alec Stewart (8,463) and Graham Gooch (8,900) are firmly in his sights, particularly when you consider the number of games to come this year.  

However, Cook is well clear at the top. The opening batsman and former skipper finished with 12,472 runs in 161 appearances. Only four men in the history of the game have managed more, Sachin Tendulkar (15,921 runs in 200 Tests) leading the way.  

Could Root potentially chase Tendulkar down? He is about to hit the halfway point in terms of number of games in the head-to-head comparison, yet is ahead of schedule in terms of output. He has only missed two Test matches since his debut, while a decision at some stage along the line to focus solely on the longest format of the game could extend his Test career even further. 

Such talk of individual records is likely to be of little concern for the man himself, though. Reaching 100 Tests is an impressive achievement for Root, who will hope it is not his last century in the months to come. 

Babar Azam and Fawad Alam halted a worrying start to the second Test between Pakistan and South Africa before rain stopped play at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on Thursday.

Pakistan won the opening Test but lost three wickets for just one run as they were reduced to 22-3 in a promising first session for the Proteas on day one.

However, like he did with a century in Karachi last week, Fawad (42no) helped get the hosts back on track by establishing a 123-run partnership with captain Babar (77no).

The pair displayed some wonderful shots as they took the match to South Africa, with Babar racking up 12 fours and Fawad five but rain during tea stopped them returning on 145-3.

Keshav Maharaj would have had a first-ball wicket had Temba Bavuma held on to Imran Butt (15) at first slip on 13 but he got his man courtesy of a sharp catch from wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock, making his final appearance as Test captain.

Maharaj (2-51) had Azhar Ali lbw for a duck in his next over and Pakistan looked in serious trouble when Aiden Markram reacted brilliantly at short leg after Anrich Nortje's rapid delivery struck Abid Ali (6) on the thigh and zoomed towards him.

However, Babar responded by getting off the mark with back-to-back boundaries and, alongside Karachi hero Fawad, steered the hosts to lunch without further loss.

The duo continued to assert themselves and Babar brought up his 16th Test half-century and took Pakistan into triple figures with a fine shot in front of square.

Kagiso Rabada thought he had made the breakthrough but his appeal for lbw against Babar was ignored, with replays showing the skipper sent an inside edge onto his pads.

South Africa were unable to break the impressive fourth-wicket stand before tea and heavy rainfall denied them the chance to make further inroads during the final session.

 

PEAKY LINDE

George Linde left the field during the first session for an X-ray after hurting a finger on his left bowling hand while fielding.

He did not sustain a fracture but received stitches and practiced bowling with protective strapping on before stepping back inside the ropes before tea.

Linde did not bowl another over, but the Proteas will be hoping he can do so before the end of the match, with Dean Elgar having stepped up as a second spin option.

Zak Crawley will miss England's first two Tests against India after suffering a sprained wrist.

The batsman sustained the setback when he slipped outside the dressing room in Chennai on Tuesday.

He will now be sidelined for the opening pair of fixtures as England head into a four-match series with Virat Kohli's side.

"Following the results of last night's scan, England top-order batsman Zak Crawley has been ruled out of the first two Tests of the India versus England series," read Thursday's statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board.

"Scan results have confirmed that Crawley has jarred his right wrist, which has sprained the joint and led to local inflammation.

"The Kent player sustained the injury during England's practice in Chennai on Tuesday when he slipped on the marble floor leaving the dressing rooms onto the field of play.

"The England medical team will continue to assess his progress over the next few weeks."

Crawley opened in Sri Lanka in the absence of Rory Burns but looked set to move to number three at M. A. Chidambaram Stadium after Jonny Bairstow was rested.

England will now have to rethink the order, although there was positive news over Ollie Pope, who has recovered from a shoulder injury and could make his comeback after being added to the squad.

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).

England batsman Zak Crawley is a doubt for the first Test against India after suffering a wrist injury. 

Crawley slipped outside the dressing room in Chennai on Tuesday and it is feared he may have suffered a fracture just three days before England start a four-match series with Virat Kohli's side. 

He must now wait for scan results to discover the extent of the injury, which he suffered on the eve of his 23rd birthday. 

An England and Wales Cricket Board statement said: "Zak Crawley did not train today at England's practice session in Chennai. 

"He slipped outside the dressing room yesterday (Tuesday) and has injured his right wrist. 

"We are waiting on the results of scans and will know more tomorrow, ahead of our final practice. There is nothing further to add at this stage." 

Crawley opened in Sri Lanka in the absence of Rory Burns, but looked set to move to number three at M. A. Chidambaram Stadium after Jonny Bairstow was rested. 

England will have to rethink the order if he is unavailable, although there was positive news over Ollie Pope, who has recovered from a shoulder injury and could make his comeback after being added to the squad.

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