Joe Root was batting brilliantly on 124. All day he had countered the Indian attack all at ease. No signs of spin trouble whatsoever as England’s no.3 cruised to his 11th Test hundred and stitched a brilliant partnership with Moeen Ali in the process.
Umesh Yadav, bowling the 81st over of the innings with the old ball, in search of reverse, pitched one up. Root did what any batsman batting with a score in excess of 120 would have done. He punched one, uppishly, straight but the ball went straight back to Yadav on the follow-through. The ball was travelling but the seamer got his hands down in time and collected the ball but briefly.
The dismissal brought back memories of Herschelle Gibbs catch of Steve Waugh in the 1999 World Cup. Gibbs celebrated way too early and failed to keep the ball in control. Waugh survived and sealed the deal for Australia, 17 years ago.
Similar scenes unfolded in Rajkot on Wednesday. Yadav collected the ball, tossed it up but still reached out to collect it after juggling. That didn’t happen and the umpires, after giving the soft signal of out, referred it upstairs.
Root was not convinced and stood confident. India too didn’t wear a convinced look as the third-umpire saw plenty of replays – in slow motion and natural mode to make his decision. While slow motion made it look convincing, it was real-time which made it a 50-50 call.
The soft signal, it seems, helped and third-umpire ruled in favour of India. Root made the long walk back after putting England in control and gently raised his bat to acknowledge the cheer from the dressing room and the crowd in Rajkot.
It was a much needed wicket for the hosts as both Root and Ali were doing a brilliantly job for the visitors and their play against spin would have injected a lot of confidence into the away camp.