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    India vs England: Joe Root dominates in Ranchi to showcase his and England's adaptability
India vs England: Joe Root dominates in Ranchi to showcase his and England's adaptability
Joe Root, by pkbnews.in

India vs England: Joe Root dominates in Ranchi to showcase his and England's adaptability

Only a few people are qualified to give Joe Root advice on batting.

Soon, Joe Root is set to surpass Sir Alastair Cook as England's greatest Test run-scorer. He may even challenge India's great Sachin Tendulkar as the most prolific player the game has ever seen.

Root's journey began in India 12 years ago. Since then, he has been a constant and reassuring presence in the England side. He has missed only two Tests out of England's past 141.

Root's position under the captaincy of Ben Stokes is a curious one. Firstly, a similar group of players who struggled towards the end of Root's tenure have largely excelled under Stokes. Despite Root being a kind and amiable person, which is hard to come by, this must sting a little.

Additionally, Root has had to adapt his batting style to fit in with the Stokes era. While most players have thrived with the freedom and motivation to attack, Root had the least margin for improvement when the captaincy changed hands. Despite the team falling apart around him, Root's form remained stratospheric.

He even admitted that he did not know his place in the Bazball universe.

Root is a team player and fully embraces the Stokes ethos.

However, he recently experienced his longest lean spell in two years, going six innings without a half-century. This occurred during the tour of India, where Root bowled more overs than he scored runs in the first three Tests. During the third Test, he failed to catch a crucial ball and expressed irritation towards India's running on the pitch. At one point, he even complained about Spidercam.

The team's lack of runs was not the only issue; the manner in which they were scored was also a concern. The Root’s technique was scrutinised by Jasprit Bumrah, and in the second innings of the second Test, possibly affected by a hand injury, he played a reckless shot at Ravichandran Ashwin.

The moment of crisis came with the failed reverse-scoop at Bumrah in the third Test, a dismissal that fuelled the ongoing debate about the team's performance. Did a method that had contributed significantly to England's results and certain players in their team come at the expense of their greatest asset?

Root gave little away if he was aware of the collective concern. In the build-up to the fourth Test in Ranchi, those close to the England team said there were no signs of stress or anxiety.

And he delivered a masterclass when England needed Root most. While Ollie Pope and Ben Duckett have both made impressive centuries on this tour, no one could match the technical mastery displayed by Root in his unbeaten 106 on the opening day of Friday.

It is possible that the absence of the rested Bumrah or the lack of a new batting helmet played a role, but it is more likely that Root's supreme craftsmanship allowed him to deliver when the stakes were highest and the conditions were at their most mischievous.

The innings demonstrated that both Root and England are capable of adapting to the situation at hand. Despite a first morning filled with enough action to fill a movie trilogy, Root played a classic innings.

When England were at 112-5, they were in danger of being overwhelmed on a pitch that resembled a dried-up riverbed. Akash Deep, who was making his debut, hit stumps and bodies, took edges and pinned pads. Ben Stokes was dismissed lbw by a Ravindra Jadeja delivery that kept low.

This was not the time for scooping, reverse or otherwise. Root calmed the situation with excellent defence, sound judgement and unwavering determination.

He refrained from playing any sweeps or scoops, regardless of the type of bowling. In the first three Tests, Root attempted a sweep or scoop at over 11% of the balls he faced, resulting in 24 runs and three dismissals. However, on Friday, he only attempted three in his 226-ball innings, with the first not coming until his 103rd delivery of the day.

Root hardly played any shots in front of square on the off side. Instead, he scored with deft touches to the third man or tucks off the pads. It was in his 126th ball that he hit his first boundary through the covers.

Ben Foakes was Root's ally in the England XI, despite being perhaps the least-suited player for Bazballing. If Root is the drummer who beats the beat in the England band, Foakes is the roadie who does the hardest work for the least praise, but without whom the show cannot go on.

Their partnership of 113 was England's slowest century stand between Stokes and McCullum. It was also England's slowest session in the same two-year period, with 86 runs at 2.33 an over added between lunch and tea.

When Root finally reached his 31st Test century, a cover drive over deep on 219, it was the slowest century in terms of deliveries faced by the Bazballers. Root's celebrations were subdued. Perhaps he was tired of the criticism he had received, or maybe he was just exhausted.

Root's achievement, in addition to the century, was to silence his critics while also doing exactly what they asked him to do. In both struggle and success, he embodied England's shift from inflexibility to adaptability.

England has often refined their approach when it was most necessary, such as turning around a 1-0 deficit against South Africa, recovering from a self-inflicted 2-0 deficit against Australia to draw the Ashes, and now potentially levelling at 2-2 to set up a decider in India.

England often requires a wake-up call to recalibrate. They seem to be aware of the consequences of staying up late for a cup of coffee or the location of a speed camera on their daily commute. Moving forward, it is crucial for them to avoid falling into the same trap.

As for Root, he must prioritise tolerance when facing his next slump. Few are qualified to advise him on his batting technique.

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