Joe Root answers critics with century as England fight back in Ranchi

Fourth Test finely poised as tourists finish opening day on 302-7

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Joe Root struck an unbeaten 106 to lead England's recovery after Indian fast bowler Akash Deep took three early wickets on debut in the fourth Test on Friday.

England, who are 2-1 down in the five-Test series, finished the day on 302-7 after winning the toss and electing to bat first in Ranchi.

The tourists then slipped to 112-5 but Root, with just 77 runs across his previous six innings and under fire for the cavalier nature of some of his dismissals, found form to put on a 113-run stand with wicketkeeper-batsman Ben Foakes, who made 47.

Mohammed Siraj broke the partnership with the wicket of Foakes but Root held firm and had Ollie Robinson, on 31, for company in an unbeaten stand of 57 at stumps.

Root's 31st Test ton came after a wave of criticism after he failed with a reverse scoop as England collapsed and lost the third Test in Rajkot.

England opener Zak Crawley, who made 42, was full of praise for his teammate's efforts.

Crawley told TNT Sports: “We’re so happy for him and we never doubted him. If anything we know that when he’s got a couple of low scores he’s even more likely to get the big one, and we expected that from him.

“He’s phenomenal, and he’s one of, if not the best we’ve ever had playing for England.”

Root and Foakes held their nerve in difficult circumstances for the tourists, dispensing with their usual attacking style to salvage the innings with patient batting.

Siraj was brought back into the attack after tea and got Foakes caught at mid-wicket before bowling Tom Hartley for 13.

Root held on with just nine boundaries in his 226-ball stay to give his team a much-needed boost on a cracked pitch expected to turn more.

Earlier, the 27-year-old Deep dazzled as a replacement for Jasprit Bumrah, who was rested, and had a fast start on his first Test cap. Deep got his first international wicket when Ben Duckett was caught behind for 11.

He struck again two balls later to trap Ollie Pope lbw for a duck, a decision denied by the on-field umpire but successfully reviewed by India.

Deep then bowled Crawley with one that darted back and rattled the stumps, as England slipped to 57-3 in the first hour of play.

Root and Jonny Bairstow put on a stand of 52 before Ravichandran Ashwin had Bairstow lbw on 38 following another successful Indian review.

Skipper Ben Stokes was out lbw by Ravindra Jadeja for three on the stroke of lunch to leave England in serious trouble at that stage.

Crawley added: “It was tricky early on with the ball nipping around a lot and we had to throw a couple of punches back, which I think myself and Jonny did well.

“I was trying to bat normally at the start but it was so difficult – I just felt like there was one with my name on eventually. I thought I’d throw something back and I did start to feel a bit more comfortable after that.

“The boys played unbelievably in the middle session and then Joe got very good support from Tom (Hartley) and Ollie as well.

“I said beforehand that if we get 280 to 300, we’re in a very good position so I stand by that – we are ahead of the game."

Updated: February 23, 2024, 12:27 PM