Published On: Sun, Jul 24th, 2016

Joe Root hits career-best 254 at Old Trafford


Joe Root hits career-best 254 at Old Trafford

Joe Root’s career-best 254 and three late wickets for Chris Woakes put Pakistan firmly on the rack on day two of the second Test at Old Trafford.

Root nailed a reverse sweep for four off Yasir Shah midway through the afternoon session to reach his second double-century in 44 Tests before powering on to propel England to 589-9 declared.

By stumps Pakistan, 1-0 up in the series, had faltered to 57-4 as Woakes (3-18) found the edge of Mohammad Hafeez’s bat – Root claiming his 50th Test catch – before snaffling a one-handed return catch to despatch Azhar Ali. Worse followed for the tourists as Younus Khan tickled Ben Stokes down the leg-side, Jonny Bairstow taking the catch, before nightwatchman Rahat Ali fended Woakes off to short leg.

But for Woakes’ all-round exploits this was Root’s day. His 406-ball knock, which featured 27 fours, surpassed his previous personal best of 200 not out, made against Sri Lanka at Lord’s in 2014, and is the third highest score for England against Pakistan, behind Denis Compton’s 278 at Trent Bridge in 1954 and Alastair Cook’s 263 in Abu Dhabi last winter.

The 25-year-old is only the sixth batsman in 132 years to score a Test double century at Old Trafford and the first Englishman to do so since Ken Barrington in 1964.

In all he shared three century partnerships – with Alastair Cook (185 stand), Woakes (103) and Bairstow (106) while Yasir, the world’s top-ranked Test bowler, finished with 1-213 from 54 overs.

Woakes, who began the day on two not out in England’s 314-4, shrugged off an early blow on the forearm from Rahat to contribute 58 off 104 balls.

The all-rounder proved a nightwatchman in name only as he drove with authority before upper-cutting Mohammad Amir over third man for his maiden six in Test cricket.

Root enjoyed a life on 155 when Younus Khan failed to grasp a low edge of Yasir and Pakistan’s problems mounted when Amir was forced from the field with a leg injury.

Just when it seemed the tourists would endure a wicket-less session, Woakes prodded a return catch to Yasir – the leg-spinner picking up his first wicket in his 39th over.

Stokes received a rousing welcome to the crease on his return to the side and enjoyed a slice of fortune when he top-edged an attempted sweep off Yasir on 25, the ball falling safely.

But that luck ran out just nine runs later when Pakistan successfully reviewed a ‘not out’ appeal for a catch down the leg-side, replays showing Stokes had gloved an attempted pull off Wahab Riaz (3-106).

Bairstow also enjoyed a life on nine when Sarfaz Ahmed knocked a snick behind up in the air only to shell the chance after juggling the ball, much to Yasir’s annoyance.

The Yorkshireman made his fellow wicketkeeper pay with another energetic innings, his fifty coming up in decent time off 74 balls thanks to six boundaries.

The declaration did not come when Root skied a catch to the diving Hafeez, Cook choosing to delay until the 153rd over of the innings when Bairstow miscued Wahab to mid-off – England closing on their second-highest total against Pakistan, behind the 598-9 declared made at Abu Dhabi in 2015.

James Anderson, restored to England’s line-up after being overlooked for the defeat at Lord’s despite his desire to play, almost struck fourth ball but just failed to grab a dipping return catch offered by Shan Masood (30no).

Instead it was Woakes, fresh from his maiden 10-wicket haul at the Home of Cricket, who made the first breakthrough on the stroke of drinks by finding Hafeez’s edge with his sixth ball.

The all-rounder improved his figures to 2-14 in his fourth over, leaping to grab a looping return catch one-handed as Azhar mis-hit a push to leg.

With two drops to his name in the Test so far, Younus owed his side runs but couldn’t deliver as he ran the ball off the face to Bairstow and once nightwatchman Rahat went, it fell to Misbah-ul-Haq (one not out) and Masood to see out the day.

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About the Author

Syed Ammar Alavi

- is Lahore (Pakistan) based journalist & writer with 25-year experience in print, wire and broadcast forms of journalism. His major fields of interest are politics, film,tv,sports, climate change and technology