The story of England’s first two days in Chennai is the story of one man, and how the score, the bowler, the day, and possibly even the year, faded into irrelevance
It’s 2016. Joe Root is batting against Pakistan at Lord’s. The score is 114 for one. The runs are flowing. Everything works. Yasir Shah strays on to his pads and Root lap‑sweeps for four. The crowd purrs appreciatively. For Root, at this moment, Test cricket feels like the easiest game in the world. The next ball is tossed up invitingly outside off stump. “That’s 50,” Root thinks to himself, a split second before launching into a slog-sweep that flies off the top edge and is caught at midwicket.
It’s 2021. Root is batting against India at Chennai. The score is 433 for four. The runs are flowing. Everything works. Ravi Ashwin flights the ball on a length and Root deposits him into the empty concourse for six. There is no crowd, no roar: no sound at all, in fact, bar the distant ripple of applause from his teammates in the dressing room. And this is how Root first became aware of the fact that he had reached his double-century.