In the post-match ceremony at Lord’s, after England were bowled out in 51.5 overs, skipper Joe Root was obviously a disappointed man. From a tactical point of view, he had allowed the game to get away from his side on Day 4 even as Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah put on a partnership for the ages and then watched his side succumb to a demoralising defeat.

“We couldn’t see out the day which was frustrating but a lot of cricket to play and we’ll come back hard,” Root had said.

There was something about the way the England skipper spoke that told everyone watching that the series was far from done. For one, there was the acknowledgment that they had got things wrong and that they could do better. And it seemed to, even at that moment, strengthen the resolve of Root, James Anderson and the rest. Root, the batsman, was in the form of his life. If only he could find some support...

Then, the third Test rolled along and India were bowled out for 78 on the first day itself thanks to an Anderson masterclass and some poor, rash strokes. It immediately put England in the driver’s seat but they still needed to go out and bat well. Given the fragility of the batting line-up of the hosts, India would have felt that they still had a chance.

But openers Haseeb Hameed and Rory Burns put on 135 runs for the first wicket and for the first time in the series, Root was able to come in to bat with substantial runs on board.

And he wasn’t in the mood to muck around. Right from the very start, he was a man on a mission. He called Dawid Malan for some quick singles to get the blood flowing and settled into an easy rhythm that has almost become his trademark. The runs just seemed to flow as he found the gaps easily.

By the time he reached his 50, he had played just 57 balls. It was a punishing pace and India’s bowlers were looking flatter than the flat pitch. There was no period of rest because the runs simply kept piling up.

The fluency meant that India were forced on the defensive. The conditions were overcast but the Indian bowlers didn’t get much swing or seam movement and because of that, the full length that had troubled the Indians so much posed no great challenge to the England batsmen.

India had a strike rate of 36 against deliveries pitched between the 4-6m length. England, on the other hand, had an SR of 79 against similar deliveries. It almost forced the Indian bowlers to go shorter and the shorter they went, the less swing they got.

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Root’s aggression also ensured that England stayed well ahead of the game. If England wanted to stay ahead of the game, they needed to score runs and not just spent time on the wicket. So often we have seen batsmen spend a lot of time in the middle but score nothing. The play for time works only in certain situations, at all others, you have to move the game forward.

India’s bowlers had been on top in the series but the one man they have had no answer to has been Root. He has his areas marked out, rarely drives the ball in front of the wicket, plays very late and challenges this attack in unfamiliar ways. They just seem unsure about the kind of length to bowl to him.

The manner in which he kept going on the back foot, getting on his toes to punch the ball through the covers was a sight to behold; it was the sight of a man in supreme touch.

From time to time, we see batsmen go on a run when almost nothing seems to trouble them. It all just comes together. Root seems to be very much in that phase. As he brought up his century off 124 balls, all of Headingley, his father included, rose in unison to acknowledge his genius.

By the time, he was dismissed on 121, his job was done. At that point, Root alone had scored 30.9% of England’s total runs in the series. He had scored 64 and 109 in the first Test and followed it up with 180 and 33 in the second and now another century in the third.

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There are some who reckoned that India could have perhaps found a way to make Root work a little harder for his runs – bowled a sixth stump line and waited but Virat Kohli and Co were so behind in the game that they probably felt the only way back into the game was wickets.

India stayed aggressive and they got punished by Root and Co. But that is the nature of the game. You win some, you lose some.

At the end of Day 2, England lead by 345 runs with two wickets in hand. The pitch seems to be very good for batting but the challenge ahead of India is a massive one and perhaps the visitors too can follow the example of the England skipper and play each ball on its merit without worrying about anything else.