London, July 21 (IANS) Joe Root struck his maiden Ashes century that put England in commanding position with a mammoth lead on day three of the second Ashes Test against Australia at Lord's here Saturday.
Root, 22, remained unbeaten on 178 as England ended the day at 333 for five in the second innings, with a huge lead of 566 runs. The other major contributors were Ian Bell (74) and Tim Bresnan (38).
It was a day to forget for the Australian bowlers, as they failed to capitalise on England's poor start and managed just two wickets in the day.
England started the day at a nervous 31 for three, but then overnight batsmen Root and Bresnan (38) put on a solid 129-run stand to bail out the hosts and batted Australia out of the game.
The Yorkshire pair were confident right from the start and never gave any chance to the Australian attack on a largely benign pitch.
Bresnan took 30 balls to get off the mark, but once he got off, he started playing confidently and was soon hitting boundaries.
Root brought up his first 50 since moving to top of the order when he pushed James Pattinson through the covers for a couple. He got to his half-century in 122 balls with six boundaries and had moved serenely on to 63 not out at the lunch break with Bresnan unbeaten on 32.
Australia never threatened and it was evident after lunch as the fourth-wicket pair had Bresnan's wicket came as something of a surprise. Bresnan who perished for 38 as he mistimed a pull off the bowling off Pattinson to Chris Rogers for a regulation catch at mid-wicket.
That brought England's most in-form batsman Ian Bell to the crease and he took 11 balls to get off the mark. Bell was fortunate not to depart for just three. It looked Bell had a thick edge off Ryan Harris which looked to have been well pouched by Steve Smith at point, but a referral saved the day for Bell. Third gave the batsman a benefit of doubt since it was not clear whether Smith had been taken cleanly.
Bell took full advantage of the reprieve and upped the tempo with successive boundaries off a Peter Siddle over as runs started flowing quickly.
On the other end, Root, after having cruised into the 90s, moved within one stroke of a ton with a fine back-foot cut through the covers off Smith and then had two inviting opportunities to reach three figures only to twice hit fielders.
But he did not have to wait for long on the resumption, cutting Ashton Agar square of the wicket to secure his second Test hundred and a place on the Lord's honours board.
Bell also looked well on course for his third century in as many innings but picked out Rogers at mid-wicket after he mistimed a rank long-hop from Smith.
Root then rubbed salt in Australian wounds in the penultimate over of the day as he struck Smith for two sixes in the space of three balls over the mid-wicket boundary and kept himself in the hunt for a double ton.
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