Joe Root played a brilliant knock at Lord’s, which helped England to level the series…..
For someone who has been termed as one of the four batsmen to look out for in the generation, Joe Root’s form or rather the lack of it over the summer had given critics enough reason to question his credibility. Before Steven Smith got caught in the unfortunate ball-tampering saga, he was a maniac, scoring runs in every condition. Virat Kohli continues his onslaught, and Kane Williamson keeps popping up with the match-saving tons every now and again. Under all this, Root remained somewhat entrapped; the aura of the team overshadowing his presence.
But Root, in the second ODI against India, was a player on a mission. The mighty Kuldeep awaited him and he walked out to bat in the eleventh over, the over in which the chinaman had sent back Jonny Bairstow. In came Root, preparing to face the bowler who had sent his teammates into a tizzy. Root himself had only faced Kuldeep for only 4 balls in the two T20I games and the first ODI, and before the Indian could get his juggernaut running, the batsman was intent to show off his worth and his credentials.
His approach was to play it safe and rotate the strike in the early part of the innings. By sticking to his strengths, Root acknowledged the fact that his technique was not at fault. It only needed some application according to the game situation. Since 2015, Root has been the controlled aggressor, attacking only 46.25% of the shots, which displays how the player has been able to stick to his powers in a team that boasts of the biggest stroke-makers in the world at the moment. His run-rate against the attacking shots stands at only 7.86, which is at least 1.37 less than the next batsman’s run-rate against the attacking shots in the team.
While this might evoke a sense of irritation amongst the spectators, Root’s ability to control his shots was what led to his success in the second ODI. On a pitch that did not offer much to the big-hitters, Root stood his ground and only sent 7.73% of his deliveries to the fence. His biggest test, however, was against Kuldeep and he showed his more illustrious teammates that attack is not the way to go in every situation.
The Test captain used the crease to his advantage to nullify the effect of the wrist-spinner. He failed to connect bat to the ball only once and edged just 7% of the balls that were bowled by him, all the while maintaining a healthy run-rate of 6.82 runs per over against him. He smashed the slower ball for two exquisite cover drives and played it late against a quicker ball to negate any threat that Kohli would have wanted out of his premium bowler. Root later went on to explain his modus operandi against Kuldeep.
“I have only faced four balls against him in the last couple of games. But ultimately you have got to trust your game and your technique. I felt that the four balls I did face, I thought I was picking him okay. So it was more about spending some time out there and trusting the way I play spin. I haven’t faced much of his type of bowling but having a few overs under my belt gave me quite a lot of confidence.”
For a player who equalled Marcus Trescothick’s record of 12 hundreds for England in the game, the mere realisation that the England management were in two minds about playing him brings with it a sense of hilarity. He might not have the talent of a Jos Buttler or a Jason Roy, and maybe will never play the slam-bang cricket that his mates indulge in, but when the team is in a crunch, Root can always be expected to come to the party. Even in his nudge-and-run method play, there is a certain charisma and for that, he does deserve to be in the Honours Board along with Smith, Kohli and Williamson.