Joe Root was in sight of a hundred as England maintained their vice-like grip on the second Test against Australia at Lord’s.
England were 171 for four in their second-innings, a lead of 404 runs, at tea on the third day yesterday.
Root was 97 not out and first-innings centurion Ian Bell 16 not out.
Together with Yorkshire colleague and England nightwatchman Tim Bresnan, Root put on 99 for the fourth wicket after a Peter Siddle treble strike Friday had left the hosts 30 for three.
England, 1-0 up in the five-match series after last week’s 14-run victory at Trent Bridge, resumed yesterday’s match on 31 for three, a lead of 264 runs.
Root, 18 not out overnight, eased the first ball of Saturday’s play, from Siddle, through midwicket for four.
After two days of blazing sunshine, conditions were overcast for the first time and offering a hint of swing.
Root, however, drove James Pattinson through the covers for four as Bresnan took 30 balls to get off the mark while he denied Australia the joy of an early breakthrough.
He subsequently took two boundaries in as many balls off Siddle, the first edged short of third slip and down to third man with the second flicked just wide of midwicket.
Australia face frustrated innings
The Yorkshiremen continued to frustrate Australia’s six-strong attack, Bresnan driving Ryan Harris between point and cover for four.
Root then deliberately guided all-rounder Shane Watson behind point for another boundary.
But he topped that shot with a textbook on-driven four off Siddle that sped over the Pavilion rope.
Bresnan’s three off left-arm spinner Ashton Agar brought up a fifty stand in 134 balls.
Soon afterwards Root completed his own fifty, in 122 balls with seven fours, and then struck Pattinson for a classic back-foot forcing shot to the point fence.
But Bresnan’s valuable innings of 38, which saw him at the crease for more than three hours, ended when he pulled a Pattinson bouncer straight to Chris Rogers in front of square.
Even so, at 129 for four, England now led by 362 runs.
In a series already full of Decision Review System controversies, there was one more added to the list yesterday when Bell, on three, edged Harris low to Steven Smith at gully.
Smith immediately claimed the catch but, with the umpires and batsman uncertain, the on-field officials referred the incident to third umpire Tony Hill.
As is often the case in these situations, the more replays were looked at, the greater the degree of uncertainty and it was no surprise when Bell was allowed to continue his innings.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2013.
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