Joe Root and Dom Sibley wiped out England’s 95-run deficit on the fourth morning of the first LV= Insurance Test and began building a tentative lead of their own at Trent Bridge.
The hosts lost Rory Burns and Zak Crawley in the first half-hour of play as India’s seamers applied some early pressure, but a productive stand for the third wicket gave England a much-needed foothold and a 24-run lead.
Captain Root did the bulk of the scoring, making an enjoyable 56 not out in a lunch score of 119 for two, while Sibley showed absolute focus as he dropped anchor for 27no in 116 balls.
England had started on 25 without loss, with a potentially tricky task ahead given India’s scoreboard strength. Burns (18) looked up to it in the initial exchanges but got one from Mohammed Siraj that was just too good, shaping away from a line that demanded attention and clipping the edge on its way through.
Crawley, on the other hand, lasted only seven balls as his long streak of worrying form extended to another chapter. Jasprit Bumrah got the best of the Kent batsman this time, pounding out a testing line outside off stump and getting the edge as Crawley tried and failed to block it out.
At 46 for two, England were still 49 behind and needed something substantial to stop the rot.
Root and Sibley provided it with a partnership of 73, starting with Root’s first scoring shot – a beautiful cover driven four off Bumrah.
The seamer was close to exacting revenge before Root was out of single figures, a near drag on and an edge that died inches in front of first slip both giving a timely warning. But Root was undeterred, unfurling another couple of pretty blows through the covers and quickly overtaking Sibley, despite the latter’s 51-ball head start.
There were a couple of run-out scares, one for each batsmen, as nerves lingered but things were slowly turning in England’s favour. When Sibley was beaten by Shardul Thakur and given lbw on 24, Root persuaded him to review and enthusiastically punched the air when ball-tracking overturned the decision.
England drew level when a good ball from Ravindra Jadeja foxed Root and wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant, skipping through for four byes. A standard nudged single from the solid Sibley began building the lead and Root brought up a bright half-century by leaning back and steering Mohammed Shami over the slips for his eighth four.
India could not muster another chance before the break, leaving England in arguably their most stable position of the match to date.