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Records tumble as Root leads insane run chase

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A pair of unbeaten fourth-innings centuries to Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow has led England to a record-breaking run chase in the fifth Test against India.

Root (142 not out) and Bairstow (114 not out) combined for an unbeaten 269-run stand as England chased down a total of 378 with just three wickets down to tie the five-match series at two games apiece.

Root and Bairstow’s unbeaten 269 was the fourth-highest in the fourth innings of a Test match and the second-highest unbeaten fourth-innings stand since Gordon Greenidge and Larry Gomes.

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In chasing down 378, England smashed its old record chase, the famous 359 it ran down against Australia in the 2019 Ashes when Ben Stokes single-handedly rescued a victory from the jaws of defeat at Headingley.

It was a bitter pill to swallow for India, who had looked poised to win the series for the majority of the Test. It was the first time India had failed to defend a total of over 350 in its Test history.

The chase was England’s fourth in excess of 250 in 2022, having run down totals of 279, 299 and 296 against New Zealand in a three-Test series last month.

All four chases have come since England appointed former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum as its Test coach after disastrous tours of Australia and the West Indies, with the team’s aggressive approach mirroring that of their Kiwi coach during his playing days.

Bairstow was named the Player of the Match for his remarkable twin centuries, with the right-hander having scored 589 runs off 578 balls at an average of 196 in his last five Test innings.

“It’s about having the enjoyment factor, not afraid of failing, putting the pressure back on the opposition,” Bairstow said of the team’s fresh mindset under McCullum.

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“We’re going to lose games along the way, but the positive brand is fun to play.”

“It’s down to the players, making my job easier,” England’s Test skipper Stokes said.

“When you have clarity like we do in the dressing room it makes totals like that easier. 378 five weeks ago would have been scary, but it’s all good.

“We are trying to rewrite how Test cricket is being played, in England in particular.

“We know that we want to give new life to Test cricket, and the support that we’ve had has been incredible. We are bringing a new set of fans to Test cricket. We want to leave a mark.”

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