‘Playing the situation’ helped Root carve stellar 31st Test hundred

Joe Root’s unbeaten 122 led England to a commanding position in the fourth Test against India in Ranchi.

Arriving at 47/2, Root saw his side slide to 112/5 within the first session of play with veteran teammates like Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes already back in the hut.

What followed was a knock filled with conventional strokeplay, that helped Root to his first Test century in an otherwise lean series. He had previously scored merely 77 runs from six innings and had also copped criticism for playing unconventional shots.

An instance of this was seen in Rajkot when Root tried to hit Jasprit Bumrah with a reverse scoop in the first innings but ended up giving a catch to Yashasvi Jaiswal in the slips. England slipped from a strong 224/2 to 319 all out.

In contrast, Root was visibly patient in Ranchi, batting at a strike rate of 44.52. However, Root believed that he was merely playing the situation and executed the shots that were required on the surface.

“That's how I try and play every game really,” Root said at the end of the second day’s play. “Trying to play the conditions, the situation of the game. And it was very obvious what was needed in that situation on that surface. And thankfully, it paid off.”

CENTURY: Joe Root dazzles with an unbeaten 133

This was his 31st Test hundred, making him the batter with the second most Test hundreds among current cricketers, sitting behind only the joint-first position holders, Kane Williamson and Steve Smith (32 each). It was also his 10th hundred against India, making him the batter with the most Test centuries against the team.

“It's been nice to contribute this week. It has been a lean series for me. So I was desperate to try and get some runs for the guys, and it was nice to do that today. And hopefully, that can continue for the rest of the series now.”

Root was unfazed about the criticism that he had received over his usage of the reverse scoop, stating that he didn’t mind the selection of the particular shot, but rather its execution,

“Certainly the execution of the shots has weighed on me. Not necessarily the selection but the execution. I'm better than that.

“Batting is about outscoring the opposition, scoring more runs to give yourselves the best chance of winning. If you get out, you're out, and it doesn't matter what it looks like.”

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Root was pleased at having delivered with the bat in trying circumstances,

“If it's your main skill, you want to be delivering and you want to be standing up and performing.

“It was special, given that in the morning the wicket was doing all sorts against that hard ball. So when you went in, you really had to work hard, in the first half-hour especially. They're the ones that mean most when you have to really work hard for it, and you're trying to dig your team out of a little bit of a situation.”

After being bowled out for 353, England struck with the ball on the back of their spinners. Shoaib Bashir (4/84) and Tom Hartley (2/47) had reduced India to 219/7 at the end of the second day’s play.

India lead the five-Test series 2-1.

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