Joe Root ensured there was no repeat of bad habits and old frailties on Saturday as he became just the third England batsman to score a half-century in every Test of a five-match series.
Root’s unbeaten 92 helped him join Wally Hammond (v South Africa in 1938-39) and Peter May (v South Africa in 1955) with that milestone to his name – John Edrich achieving the feat in a six-match series against Australia in 1970-71.
The 23-year-old from Sheffield would go on to make 149 not out in England’s match-winning first-innings total of 486.
Root’s innings on Saturday was a triumph of calm and then acceleration in stands of 80 with Jos Buttler and an unbroken 67 off 10 overs with Chris Jordan, and it meant the hosts could quickly forget about their mini-collapse of three wickets for 13 runs.
Alastair Cook (79) and Yorkshire’s Gary Ballance (64) also contributed half-centuries as England took control on day two.
But second-wicket pair Cook and Ballance were part of that mid-afternoon wobble, after a partnership of 125, leaving Root and Buttler to put things right.
Root especially did so to great effect, needing 93 balls for his fifth 50 of the series but then taking toll of a flagging attack as he hit seven more boundaries from only another 36 deliveries.
Ballance had lavish praise for his fellow Yorkshire batsman, and pointed out, too, that England of the recent past might easily have gone into terminal decline. “It was a bit of a wobble, a bit of a collapse – which is not ideal,” he said. “Early on in the summer, it could have been an eight- or nine-wicket collapse – but it was only four.
“They bowled well at us and got a few wickets, but the way Rooty and Jos counter-attacked was brilliant... and really put us in a strong position.
“Root’s played very positively.He was patient, and got used to the pace of the wicket and then looked to score (more quickly) – and that’s what he’s done very well this summer.
“He’s obviously got that ability (to change gear in an innings), and he had a chance to put pressure back on India and did that very well.”
Ballance was also able to reflect on his sixth 50 in 11 innings this summer – from the No 3 position previously filled so well for so long by Jonathan Trott.
“I hadn’t batted much there before, but I’ve had a few gos this summer and feel quite good there now,” added Ballance. “Trotty’s shoes are massive to fill.”
Root’s rise: Page 10, main paper.