Root: I felt I got my rhythm back in my batting

Joe Root, whose century got England back into the contest on Day Four, says his team now has a fighting chance of winning the first Test against India.

Root celebrates after getting to his century on Saturday.   -  GETTY IMAGES

England captain Joe Root scored a strokeful century on Day Four (Saturday, August 7) to steer his team to a fighting second-innings total of 303 and hand it a chance of pocketing an unlikely win in the first Test against India.

India held the advantage after both teams finished batting once in the contest, with a 95-run first-innings lead. Two early wickets fell on the morning of Day Four, but Root steadied the ship - mainly in the company of Dom Sibley, Jonny Bairstow and Sam Curran – as England clawed back into the game. He eventually reached his century – the 21st of his career, and his sixth against India – in the post-tea session.

“In the context of the game, it felt very good to go and make a big score and a big contribution, to get us into a position where now we have a chance of winning this Test match,” Root told reporters at the end of the day’s play.

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Root felt he had got the rhythm back in his batting in this Test.

“I felt pretty good throughout this whole game, felt I got my rhythm back. I worked very hard at that for a period of time now. To get ourselves to a position where we could get a really good score on the board was really pleasing,” he said.

‘Opportunity to say thank you’ 

Root was passionate in his celebrations after reaching his century as he on-drove Shardul Thakur to long-on for a boundary. He lifted his arms above his head and pump-fisted the air upon reaching the other end.

Root said he enjoyed his knock, and the celebrations were an expression of relief after a tense 10-minute period when he had a couple of close shouts for lbw and was nearly caught out at cover.

“I really enjoyed the atmosphere within the ground. I felt like I played really nicely. The 5-10 minutes leading into actually getting a hundred was a bit hairy as well so it was quite a lot of relief in that respect. A couple of lbw shouts and I kept smacking them to the fielders; it felt I was trying to get out but I promise you I wasn’t. It was an opportunity to say thank you to everyone in the ground and to my wife and all the team-mates with me,” he said.

‘Nice conversation’ 

India fast bowler Mohammad Siraj exchanged a few words during the day with a few of England’s batsmen. Root didn’t think much of it.

“I didn’t get anything. I had a nice conversation with him; he was telling me how nicely he was bowling and I agreed. And that was sort of the gist with Sam [Curran] and Jonny [Bairstow] as well.

“It was a great atmosphere, I thought; within the ground the crowd were fantastic. So good to have that atmosphere, especially a ground like Trent Bridge. You really feel involved in a Test match, and hopefully, many can come tomorrow and we can put on our own show,” Root said.

‘Funny old game’ 

With 157 more runs to get and with nine wickets in hand, India seems to still hold the upper hand, but Root believes a cluster of wickets could turn it around for his side.

“You always want more [runs], but now I feel there are chances [of winning] on that surface. There are going to be opportunities; we just have to catch very well when those chances come but it certainly felt like there’s still plenty on that wicket. You get a couple of early ones tomorrow, it’s a funny old game, 150-160 seems to grow, it seems to get a lot bigger,” he said, looking ahead to Day Five.

White-ball practice 

Although England didn’t play too many Test matches leading up to the five-Test series against India (just two Tests against New Zealand in June), Root felt he had good batting practice for it thanks to the three-match ODI series against Sri Lanka.

“I actually feel real benefits of playing some white-ball cricket. It would have been nice to have some red-ball cricket coming into this game but in my point of view, playing 50-over cricket gave me a rhythm back into my batting.

“Felt like I got forward a lot better. I was actually standing a lot taller a lot earlier, picking my bat up a lot earlier. It feels like I got rhythm back with my hands. I find 50-over cricket can really help my red-ball game. I feel like I haven’t played for a long period of time, apart from the three games we had against Sri Lanka. Now it feels good again, it’s about trying to keep that going and keep looking to make any sort of starts into big scores,” he said.

His team has gone through some difficult times in recent months: COVID-related difficulties, scrutiny on Ollie Robinson, and Ben Stokes’ absence from the team. Root acknowledged it and said his team was just looking to find solutions to the problems and not be affected by them.

“There’s been a lot to handle. Not just for me but for the whole squad. It’s really important that you look to find ways of managing that. I feel like doing the best I possibly can and you just got to look at these situations, try and find a solution, instead of letting it weigh you down as if it’s bad luck and everything sort of seems to keep piling.”

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