Sunil Gavaskar, after Jones passed away last year, had said that the Aussie right-hander’s double century was the best he had seen by a foreign batsman in India.
While Jones dominated the Indian bowling attack back then for his 210, Root too was in complete control of his marathon innings – 218 – in his 100th Test, thereby adding to Chepauk’s storied history. The stadium, which has been witness to innumerable batting feats over the years, on Saturday saw Root becoming only the fifth visiting batsmen after Graeme Flower, Mike Gatting, Jones and Matthew Hayden to score a double ton.
It is a pity then that there were no fans to appreciate Root’s mammoth effort where the England captain battled cramps during his 536-minute stay at the crease in the city’s sweltering heat. Interestingly, Jones too suffered from severe dehydration and cramps and was vomiting incessantly on that hot September afternoon.
Former India captain Krishnamachari Srikkanth, who himself hit 53 in the first inning of the tied Test, feels Root’s innings is as impactful as Jones’. “Jones was completely dehydrated. What added to the stifling heat were the packed Chepauk stands. But Jones soldiered on in that boiling heat. Eventually, the knowledgeable Chepauk crowd recognised Jones’ effort and was sporting enough to appreciate Jones’ innings,” Srikkanth said.
Comparing the Jones effort to Root’s, the former opener said: “While things were not as bad as that September afternoon today, it was not good either. There is no longer winter in Chennai. So Root did a great job in this heat. What probably aided him is he could get acclimatised to the hot conditions when England were playing in Sri Lanka. So the Chepauk crowd did miss a fantastic innings from Root today but his knock will remain as impactful as Jones,” Srikkanth told TOI on Saturday.
With both Jones and Root’s double tons coming in the first innings, Srikkanth analysed how both the batsmen operated. “Both treated the Indian bowling attack with disdain. Jones was perhaps more attacking and a natural strokemaker who blasted his way off to assert his dominance. But Root had the answer to all kinds of deliveries. He took singles at will and also got the boundaries. The way he played the sweep, switch hit and reverse sweep showed he was in complete control,” Srikkanth said.
The last visiting batsman to score a double ton at Chepauk was Australia’s Hayden during the 2000-01 series. But it was for a losing cause. However, Maninder Singh, who dismissed Jones in the second innings in the tied Test, feels Root’s essay could set the tone for England in the series.
“Jones’ 210 brought wind to the Aussie sails and the series ended in a draw. Hayden’s innings was brilliant but India were more confident of pulling off a win. With both England and India fighting for the finalist’s spot in World Test Championship final, Root’s innings will be significant. Other batsmen could feed off his intent. The England bowlers on the other hand will have a spring in their step knowing that their batsmen will not let them down,” Maninder concluded.