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Skipper flying high after inspiring England to victory in 100th Test Match.
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Joe Root has stretched his lead atop the PCA Test Most Valuable Player Rankings after inspiring England to a memorable 227-run victory over India in the first Test Match in Chennai.
The England captain, appearing in his 100th career Test Match, continued his dream start to 2021 in making his second double hundred – and third score of over 150 – in the space of three games when posting 218 in his side’s mammoth first innings total of 578.
Root’s marathon knock, which lasted 536 minutes and saw him face 377 balls, accounted for 38% of his team’s total with no other batsman passing 87.
When combined with an enterprising 40 in England’s second innings total of 178, as well as bonus points for taking two catches and captaining the victorious side – his 26th Test win as captain moving him level with Michael Vaughan on the all-time list – Root claims another 42 MVP points to add to his already astonishing tally for the winter 2020/21 season.
He now has 123 MVP points from three Test Matches at an average of 41 points-per-game, scoring an almost identical amount in each of the three long format fixtures he has appeared in so far this winter.
That’s enough to currently give Root a 38-point lead at the top of the Test MVP Rankings – a significant improvement on the 25-point advantage he held after the 2-0 series whitewash over Sri Lanka in the lead-up to the India series.
Have you ever seen a player in better form?
Joe Root continues his dream start to 2021! 🤩
🏏 258 runs
©️ Captained England to victory
📊 42 MVP points
What a player @root66 is. 🙌
— PCA MVP Rankings (@pcaMVP) February 9, 2021
As was the case in Sri Lanka, England’s spinners have so far provided the stiffest competition to Root’s MVP dominance, with the duo of Dom Bess and Jack Leach still occupying the remaining spots in the current top three respectively.
Bess produced another excellent all-round performance in Chennai, combining match figures of 5-126 with a more-than-handy 59 runs with the bat to score 29 MVP points, taking his cumulative total for the winter up to 85.
Leach, meanwhile, recovered from a difficult first Indian innings to claim the crucial wickets of Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara in recording figures 4-76 in the second. The MVP algorithm awards bonus points for claiming key top-order wickets, and this is reflected in Leach’s 29-point haul for the match – he now sits third in the Test MVP with 71 points.
With England needing nine wickets to secure an historic victory on the final day, Leach’s performance was complemented by heroics from England’s most prolific Test bowler James Anderson.
The 38-year-old produced a spell for the ages as he claimed the crucial wickets of Shubman Gill, Ajinkya Rahane and Rishabh Pant in quick succession on the fifth day, finishing with figures of 3-17 from his 11 overs and 18 MVP points for the match. He is now fourth in the Test MVP with 51 MVP points despite having played two Tests in spinner-friendly subcontinental condition so far this winter.
Jos Buttler, who scored 54 runs and took five catches in the match in Chennai in what was a stunning team performance from England, is fifth in the Test MVP with 47 points, with a 20-point gap currently separating the top five from sixth-placed Dom Sibley, who furthered his MVP credentials after batting the first day to score 87 and set up the game for England.
Of the 10 other players who have represented England in Tests this winter, star all-rounder Ben Stokes in particular will be looking to make MVP headway during the rest of the series after being rested for the two Test Matches in Sri Lanka.
The returning Stokes showed signs of his best form in a typical performance in Chennai which saw him score a quickfire 87 on day two, take three catches – including a blinder to remove Jasprit Bumrah in India’s first innings – in the slips and return the wicket of India skipper Virat Kohli on the final day with the ball.
Stokes will be looking to make it a second winter Test MVP award in a row after being named statistically England’s best performer in the format in 2019/20, but for now it’s his captain Root who is in pole position to make it a winter to remember from a Test perspective following his side’s historic win in Chennai.
Keep up-to-date with all the latest MVP news by following the @pcaMVP on Twitter.
All images courtesy of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).