Ranchi Test: Akash Deep impresses before Joe Root rescues England

The 27-year-old pacer picked up three wickets in his 17 overs

Akash Deep India's Akash Deep celebrates the wicket of England's Zak Crawley | PTI

India unearthed a fresh pace talent in debutant Akash Deep but veteran Joe Root single-handedly kept England afloat with a tenacious hundred that shunned 'Bazball' for a more conservative approach as the visitors hobbled to 302/7 on the opening day of the fourth Test on Friday.

At stumps, the 33-year-old Root was unbeaten on 106 and had used up 226 deliveries during his classical Test knock. Giving him company at the other end at Ranchi was Ollie Robinson (26) as England staged a decent recovery from the early jolts given by Akash Deep.

The 27-year-old pacer picked up three wickets in his 17 overs, marking yet another confident debut for the home side in the ongoing series.

He made life miserable for England's top-order with the new ball, grabbing the top-three in 10 balls as the visitors lost half of their side in the first session.

But Root decided to drop anchor after that, reverting to his natural style of playing the waiting game. The move got him and England the desired results as he struck his first century in 15 innings.

ALSO READ | How Joe Root returned to basics to hit defying hundred at Ranchi

With the sun playing hide and seek during the fag end of the day, the Yorkshire man hit the three-figure mark for the 31st time in his Test career, striking a classy cover-drive off Akash Deep.

It took him 219 balls to get there and the former skipper did not show much emotion, fully aware that his job was not yet done. A record 10 of his 31 Test centuries are against India and the latest one came at just the right juncture.

England are reeling from back-to-back losses in Visakhapatnam and Rajkot to trail the five-match series 1-2.

He hit nine fours in his innings and was a picture of determination, noticeably avoiding the sweep shot due to the variable bounce of the pitch.

The absence of rested pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah, who had dismissed Root thrice in this series, also gave the Englishman some breathing space. He was happy to play the spinners on the back-foot and slice the field.

His biggest ally in England's splendid recovery was wicketkeeper-batter Ben Foakes (47 off 126 balls). The visiting side went through the second session without losing a wicket for the first time in the series.

The duo took their time and frustrated India by adding 86 runs in the post-lunch session when the wicket flattened out.

Post tea, Mohammed Siraj (2/60) gave the much-needed breakthrough dismissing Foakes three runs short of his half-century. The dismissal ended a 113-run sixth-wicket partnership.

Siraj also dismissed Tom Hartley (13 off 26 balls) with a brilliant delivery that exhibited late movement off the pitch, crashing into the off stump.

Hartley had earlier narrowly avoided a catch by the second slip following an edge that didn't carry. Instead, it went past Yashasvi Jaiswal and reached the boundary rope.

He departed after scoring 13, which included a powerful six off Ravichandran Ashwin over long-on. Ashwin got the scalp of Jonny Bairstow, who made a quick-fire 38 off 35 balls.

Bowling one of the finest maiden spells in a Test debut -- 7-0-24-3 -- Akash Deep dismissed Ben Duckett (11), Ollie Pope (0) and Zak Crawley (42) in 10 deliveries while bowling from the dressing room end.

The pacer, who came through the ranks playing domestic cricket in Bengal, hit the deck hard in a sensational display during the first hour's play after Ben Stokes opted to bat.

He, however, had to wait a bit for his maiden Test wicket.

In his second over of the day, he uprooted Crawley's off-stump that cartwheeled a couple of metres but the celebration was short-lived as he was found guilty of overstepping.

At the other end, senior pacer Siraj struggled to get the swing going and the English opening duo had it easy against him.

From being dropped on 4, Crawley cruised to 32 off 32 balls before India skipper Rohit Sharma chose to bring in spin -- Ravindra Jadeja -- from the far end. Left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav bowled a mere 10 overs without fetching a wicket.

It was then that Akash Deep seized the momentum in an eventful 10th over that went on and on with two wickets and two reviews. One of the reviews yielded a wicket, that of Duckett.

Akash Deep tempted the batter to come on his front foot as the ball nipped away taking a feather edge off the left-hander's blade.

england-joe-root-in-action-against-india-afp Joe Root in action at Ranchi | AFP

The pacer had wicketkeeper Dhruv Jurel to thank for his second wicket in the space of three balls as the Indian gloveman convinced Rohit to take a review.

Pope stepped out to Akash Deep only to be beaten on the off-stump line and was hit on the knee roll. He was given out on review.

In the next over, Akash Deep returned to finally take the wicket of Crawley identically by hitting the top of the off-stump for a glorious first spell on debut.

Root then got down to the rescue act and ensured that England ended the day with a respectable total on the board.

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