England bank on Root force against India

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LONDON: There’s something extremely classy and stylish about the way Joe Root goes about his job. The smile never leaves his face, nor does he easily lose his cool when posed with tricky queries.

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And just like his batting, the Yorkshire player prefers taking adverse situations head on.

Take the practice session on Thursday for example. Comeback man Chris Woakes got one to rise from the good length spot that hit his left thumb and the English skipper looked rattled for a second. He got out the next ball by a delivery from a practice bowler and soon left the nets.

In a while, he was there at the press room facing questions about the knock on the thumb. “It’s all fine, just a minor knock, don’t worry,” he smiled.

The sense of assurance that Root brings to the table was evident in the way he batted in the first innings of the Edgbaston Test but by the end of the game, his 80 became a mere footnote. Not too many people remembered that captain Root looked the best among all the batsmen who played the Test and it had a lot to do with the fact that he hadn’t scored a century.

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Edgbaston wasn’t a case in isolation though – conversion of half-centuries into tons has been an area that has bothered Root just that little bit. Of the 54 times Root has gone past the half-century mark in Test cricket, he has only converted 13 into centuries.

But then if you thought a batsman with an average of 52.18 over 70 Tests will get irritated by queries on his conversion rate, you’re far from the mark. Root tackled it in his own soft-spoken way: “It’s an area that can obviously get better.”

“There’s been a lot of talk about this — I look at this summer and twice I’ve managed to get past 50 and go on to make hundreds in succession. It might have been in white ball cricket but I still see that I’ve made an improvement in that area and I wanted to take that forward into this format,” Root said, explaining his concern and probably his mic-drop celebration, which was just an expression of his relief and not a way of mocking anybody.

A century at Edgbaston would have been a welcome addition to that number but it was a run out that brought about an end to that innings. “The frustrating thing about last week was the fact that it wasn’t poor batsmanship that got me out, it was a poor passage of play in terms of running between the wickets. It’s always a challenge as a batter but ultimately you’ve got to set yourself up and get yourself in that position first,” Root said.

But he still has time in this series and behind the happy face of the young English captain, there’s a steely determination. “I would be delighted if I can get past the 100-mark, but I would be even more delighted if we win the game,” Root said.

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