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IND vs ENG, 2024: Joe Root shuns fancy shots, returns to form in Ranchi

India vs England, 2023-24: Joe Root shuns fancy shots, returns to form in Ranchi. Root smashed his 31st Test century.

India vs England, 2023-24: Joe Root shuns fancy shots, scored 31st test century. | Walking Wicket (Images_ ©ICC_Twitter)
Joe Root shuns fancy shots, scored 31st test century (Images: ©ICC/Twitter)

India had reduced England to 112/5 by lunch on the first day of the fourth Test at Ranchi. And with only Joe Root and tailenders to follow, India would have eyed an early finish to England's innings possibly within 200. More so, when Root, the most experienced England batter in the squad, has been going through a horrendous form in the series. Before the Ranchi Test, Root averaged an embarrassing 12.83, aggregating 77 runs in 3 Tests in this series. Memes were already out on Root bowling more deliveries as a part-time off-spinner than facing balls as a batter. 

But what was more appalling was the way Root was getting dismissed time and again in the series. He looked in a hurry to score runs to follow the Bazball style of play and adopted an aggressive approach. He looked to score runs off every ball and tried a few innovative shots that didn’t pay off. Root had cut a sorry figure when attempting those shots. His dismissal of a reverse scoop off Jasprit Bumrah in the Rajkot Test would have even made die-hard England fans look for cover to stave off the embarrassment.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man! It could not have been so true in England's first innings at Ranchi when Root brought out his traditional game to the fore to first nullify the threat of the India bowlers by playing every ball on merit, giving respect to conditions and the opposition attack, and then restructuring the innings with useful partnerships with the lower-order batters. The traditional Test batting from Root – a far cry from the Bazball style of play, saw Root stitch a 113-run stand with Ben Foakes for the sixth wicket, and then an unbeaten partnership of 57 runs for the eighth wicket with Ollie Robinson. It took England’s total to 302/7 at stumps on the first day at Ranchi after they were in the doldrums at 112/5. Root finished the day unbeaten on 106 off 226 balls with 9 fours. Root was resoluteness yet defensive. He accumulated runs through ones and twos, waited for bad balls and punished them with a departure from Bazball. But it was all very effective given the position England were in at lunch.


What this knock implies for England?

This knock from Root has given England a chance to put runs on the board and put pressure on India when they bat on a pitch that has turns, and uneven bounce and that will only worsen as the match progresses. It has given a chance to England to fight to level the series 2-2 and take the series to the decider. Take out Root’s runs from the first innings, and England could have folded below 200, and then they would have to do a lot of catch-up for the rest of the match. 

But now, England have the chance to make India toil for breakthroughs. This knock has also brought England's best Test batters in the current era to return to form and dictate terms in the match. The momentum has turned in England's favour if not entirely shifted to them. Also, this comeback knock from Root bodes well for England as they could count on Root to bat India out of the match, and even in the next Test to pocket the series.

Also, Root’s knock in Ranchi as an accumulator gives out the message that the England cricket team is not just about attacking every ball to match up the Bazball style of play. It also implies that England can curb the natural attacking instinct to play according to match situations, play slow cricket for the greater good of the team’s cause and that they are ready to learn and adapt – something that was missing in the previous two Tests. As Ollie Pope shell-shocked India in Hyderabad, Root is doing the same in Ranchi with his traditional style of Test batting. 


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