Joe Root’s brilliant 228 in the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle was only the fifth instance of a double hundred by an English batsman in the island nation. The England captain produced two masterclass innings in back to back performances in Galle taking his side to their second successive series sweep in Sri Lanka.
With the series in India commencing from the 5th of February, Root has given an early warning by showcasing his class in tough hot and humid conditions aiding spin bowling. Root’s daddy hundreds are amongst the best by an English batsman in the sub-continent. We look at 5 outstanding centuries by visiting batsmen from England in Asia.
1. Kevin Pietersen - 186 vs India in Mumbai (2012)
India were 1-0 up in the series and courtesy a Pujara hundred had scored 327 in the first innings in Mumbai. England were given a solid start by Cook and Nick Compton before Pragyan Ojha gave the visitors a double blow by removing Compton and Trott in successive overs. Pietersen joined Cook at the crease and immediately took control. The pair brought up the fifty partnership with Pietersen contributing 36. He soon registered his half century off just 63 deliveries and the hundred partnership came in good time off 162 deliveries. The partnership continued to blossom on Day 3 with Pietersen recording a splendid hundred off just 127 deliveries including 15 boundaries. The 206-run stand finally ended when Cook was dismissed for 122 by Ashwin. Pietersen continued to plunder with the middle order and smashed a magnificent 186 off just 233 deliveries including 20 fours and 4 sixes. Seldom had a visiting batsman dominated a top-class Indian spin attack in India in the manner in which Pietersen did in Mumbai in the innings. Against a bowling line-up comprising Ashwin, Ojha, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan, it was the Englishman who had come out on top hitting the bowlers out of the attack making a mockery of all of India’s strategy and plans. Pietersen’s innings is widely recognized as the greatest knock by an overseas batsman in India.
2. Ian Botham - 114 vs India in Mumbai (1980)
A year and a half before the world bowled down to Ian Botham after the 1981 Ashes, he gave a glimpse of his all-round genius and the destruction he was capable of in Mumbai. In the only Test in 1980, England were reeling at 57 for 4 when Botham walked out to bat. What followed was a brilliant counter-attacking hundred against Kapil Dev and his men. Botham hammered 114 off just 144 deliveries - an innings which included 17 fours - and powered England past the Indian total of 242. India collapsed in the second innings as the great Ian Botham produced one of the finest all-round performances also returning with 13 wickets in the match. England went on to win by 10 wickets.
3. Michael Atherton - 125 vs Pakistan in Karachi (2000)
It was the series decider in Karachi after the first two Tests in Lahore and Faisalabad had ended in draws. Moin Khan won the toss and elected to bat first. Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf recorded hundreds as Pakistan registered 405 in the first innings. England’s reply was led by opener Michael Atherton who in typical Atherton-style scored a dogged 125 off 430 deliveries against an attack comprising the likes of Waqar Younis, Saqlain Mushtaq and Danish Kaneria. He was given good support by skipper, Nasser Hussain who chipped in with 51. England came close to Pakistan’s total and replied with 388. A good bowling performance in the second innings helped the visitors dismiss the home team for 158. Graham Thorpe and Graeme Hick were the stars with the bat in the 176-run chase under fading lights in Karachi. England had won their first series in Pakistan in 39 years!
4. Alastair Cook - 190 vs India in Kolkata (2012)
The series was tied at 1-1 with all to play for in the third Test at the iconic Eden Gardens in Kolkata. Captain Cook had already produced a masterclass hundred in Mumbai to help England draw level the series. India posted 316 in the first innings. Cook put together 165 for the opening wicket with Nick Compton before stitching another match-changing partnership of 173 with Jonathan Trott for the second wicket.
He was the third English wicket to fall after scoring 190. The visitors went on to post in excess of 500 and then bowled out India for 247. They went on to register a famous seven wicket victory. The fourth Test in Nagpur ended in a draw. England took the series 2-1. It was a rare home series loss for India and England’s first triumph in the country since 1984.
5. Joe Root - 228 vs Sri Lanka in Galle (2021)
Coming in to bat at 17 for 2, Joe Root, the England captain produced a magnificent 228 off just 321 deliveries - the highest score by an English batsmen in Sri Lanka - helping his team to 421 which meant that they had a massive first innings lead and went on to register a comfortable win by seven wickets in Galle - Sri Lanka’s fortress at home. Root displayed his class on a difficult wicket aiding spin in hot and humid conditions where others struggled and failed. Not only was he able to counter the Sri Lankan attack but dominated them using his feet beautifully against the spinners. Root scored more than 50% of his team’s runs in the first innings and looked a league above the rest of the batsmen in the match.