Joe Root extends golden run as England build huge lead against India in Leeds Test

Captain hits sixth Test century of 2021 as hosts continue their push to level series at Headingley

After a day that exposed the wild unpredictability of Test match cricket came something to set your watch by: a Joe Root century.

England’s captain hit the 23rd century of his Test career, and the sixth of a year that grows more extraordinary by the game.

More pressingly, it meant England were able to consolidate the advantage their bowlers had given them in bowling India out for 78 a day earlier.

By stumps on day two, the hosts had amassed 423-8, giving them a lead of 345. With three days still remaining, they appear well set to avenge their defeat last time out at Lord's, and level the series at 1-1.

As soon as the umpires had called play, India looked shell-shocked following the shellacking they had taken on the opening day in Headingley.

England set about grinding them down with the sort of efficiency that has proved beyond them in Test cricket for years.

For once, it was not just Root who prospered. Sure, the captain was the star, as ever, but he was not the only one who was able to celebrate a milestone.

Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed, the new opening partnership, posted 135 for the first wicket, and signed for 61 and 68 respectively.

Next came Dawid Malan, returning after over four years in the Test-cricket wilderness to fill England’s problem No 3 position.

He has swapped counties in that time, and, batting at his new home ground, looked perfectly at ease on his comeback to the long format.

He made 70 from 128 balls before, to the last ball before tea, he was strangled down the leg side by Mohammed Siraj.

So innocuous was the dismissal, Rishabh Pant, the catcher, did not even appeal, and Virat Kohli, India’s captain, had to be coaxed into reverting the not out decision to video review.

Malan’s departure meant Root was able to celebrate reaching three figures with a born-and-bred Yorkshireman at the other end, rather than an adopted one.

When it came, with a crisp clip for four through mid-on, Root was met with a bear hug by his long-term county- and national-team colleague Jonny Bairstow.

The duo shared an alliance worth 52 before Bairstow became the second of three wickets for Mohammed Shami in the innings.

Root continued after his mate had left, before he was finally removed by Jasprit Bumrah.

Bumrah had been wicketless till that point, but arced a delivery back onto the stumps via the inside edge of Root's bat.

By that point, the home hero had taken his tally for the day to 128, and his one for the year to 1,398.

It leaves him within sight of Mohammed Yousuf's record for a calendar year in Test cricket of 1,788.

What would be of more meaning for him at present, though, will be the fact it leaves England within sight of a series-levelling win with three days of the Test match to play.

Updated: August 26th 2021, 6:10 PM