Joe Root and James Anderson paired for 198 on their final-wicket stand, with India at 167 for three in reply at stumps on Day 4, as a draw seemed the likeliest conclusion to the first Test.
Root and Anderson make last-wicket record stand, England and India on course for draw
England’s Joe Root and James Anderson rewrote the record books with a Test record last-wicket stand but a docile Trent Bridge pitch threatened to have the last word in their series opener with India.
The pair put on 198, with Root making 154 not out and Anderson a Test-best 81, to take England to 496 on the fourth day in reply to India’s first innings 457.
However, India were 167 for three in their second innings at stumps, a lead of 128 runs.
Virat Kohli was eight not out and Ajinkya Rahane, looking in fine touch, 18 not out.
“I think overnight we both just thought that we could actually annoy the Indians today and stay out there a little bit,” the 31-year-old Anderson, playing his 95th Test, told Sky Sports.
“Obviously we didn’t think anything like this could happen. I wouldn’t say it was easy but it was such a slow pitch that you knew there was only a few ways you could get out.”
Just when India were on the verge of making a draw all but inevitable, they lost two well-set batsmen with the score on 140.
First innings century-maker Murali Vijay (52) was caught behind by wicketkeeper Matt Prior of the bowling of off-spinner Moeen Ali.
Next ball Cheteshwar Pujara (55) cut at fast bowler Liam Plunkett and Ben Stokes, at backward point, grabbed the catch at the second attempt after the ball hit his chest.
Root insisted England now had a chance, albeit slim, of winning the first of this five-Test series.
“Obviously we’re going to have to bowl well tomorrow (Sunday), get some early wickets, but if we do you never know,” said Root, whose innings was his third score in excess of 150 in 18 Tests.
Meanwhile, Anderson’s knock was the third-highest score by any Test No 11 after Australian Ashton Agar’s 98 against England at Trent Bridge last year and Tino Best’s 95 for the West Indies, also against England, at Edgbaston in 2012.
The England duo’s stand surpassed the previous tenth-wicket Test record of 163 – shared by Agar and Phil Hughes in Nottingham last year.
It was the second century last-wicket partnership of this Test after Bhuvneshwar Kumar (58) and Mohammed Shami (51 not out) had put on 111 in India’s first innings.
And it meant this match was also the first in 137 years of Test cricket where both sides had seen their last-wicket duo share hundred stands and both No 11s – Shami and Anderson – had made fifties.
As India began their second innings, Vijay, who made 146 in the first innings, should have been out for nought when he edged England spearhead Anderson but Prior failed to get anything on the low chance.
But Ali, taking the pitch out of the equation, struck in his first over to have the disbelieving Shikhar Dhawan caught and bowled off a full toss for a run-a-ball 29.
England, after losing six wickets for 68 runs in the face of accurate bowling from Kumar and Ishant Sharma on Friday, resumed on 352 for nine.
Root was 78 not out and Anderson 23 not out.
But India’s seamers were unable to generate the same reverse swing they’d managed on Friday.
Left-handed batsman Anderson was the initial aggressor on Saturday with a flurry of boundaries worthy of a top-order batsman.
Then Root’s two fours through the offside in as many Shami deliveries saw the 23-year-old to a hundred in 186 balls including 12 boundaries.
Anderson had so nearly batted England to a draw last time out against Sri Lanka at Headingley before being caught off a rising delivery off the penultimate ball of the match.
It was from such a delivery that Anderson gave a chance on 45 when he fended at Shami only for Vijay to drop the low gully catch.
Anderson, whose previous best at this level was 34, completed a maiden Test fifty by pulling Shami for his 11th four in just 61 balls.
He eventually edged Kumar (five for 82) to Dhawan at first slip to end a near four-hour innings.
Highest last-wicket stands
England’s Joe Root (154 not out) and James Anderson (81) posted a new Test record 10th-wicket partnership of 198 on the fourth day of the series opener against India at Trent Bridge on Saturday.
That surpassed the previous record of 163 set by Australia’s Phil Hughes and Ashton Agar against England at the same Trent Bridge ground a year ago.
The five highest last-wicket Test partnerships (partners, runs, team, opponents, date):
• Joe Root/James Anderson 198 ENG v IND, Nottingham, 2014
• Phil Hughes/Ashton Agar 163 AUS v ENG, Nottingham, 2013
• Brian Hastings/Richard Collinge 151 NZL v PAK, Auckland, 1973
• Azhar Mahmood/Mushtaq Ahmed 151 PAK v RSA, Rawalpindi, 1997
• Denesh Ramdin/Tino Best 143 WIS v ENG, Birmingham, 2012
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