England captain Joe Root's form vs India reward for 'incredible work in lockdown', says Michael Atherton

Root struck his second successive century against India, finishing unbeaten on 180 as the host side took a narrow first-innings lead of 27 in the second Test at Lord's.

England batsman Joe Root plays a ramp shot for 4 runs off bowler Mohammed Siraj during day three of the second Test against India at Lord's.   -  Getty Images

Former captain Mike Atherton believes Joe Root is reaping the benefits of his "incredible work" during last year’s Covid-19 lockdown.

Root struck his second successive century against India, finishing unbeaten on 180 as the host side took a narrow first-innings lead of 27 in the second Test at Lord's.

"I think this is a reward for some incredible work he did in lockdown. It came at a time when he was 29 and had already had a fantastic career," Atherton told 'Sky Sports'.

"But it just gave him an opportunity to rest, where he's said 'I've got the second half of my career to come and I can go from being a very, very fine player to one of the all-time greats'," he added.

India vs England 2nd Test, Day 3 Highlights: Root 180 powers ENG to 27-run lead vs IND at Lord's

Root's latest innings also took him beyond 9,000 runs in Test cricket. He had started the year with double hundreds in the away series against Sri Lanka and India.

"He asked the analyst to send him every dismissal from the last five years or so, looked at it in great detail and tried to work out where he could go from there. He's reaping the rewards of that.

"He's made a slight technical adjustment now, with that back leg going straight back. That made him less vulnerable to the lbw when the ball is straight.

"For three years, he's not been quite at his best at home against seam and pace bowling, but now he's in a golden run of form that started at the beginning of 2021 when England went to Sri Lanka.

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"He showed all his great skill on the dust bowls in Asia and now he's got his very best game together in more seam-friendly conditions here at home.

"The lovely thing is how he doesn't seem burdened at all by the weight of captaincy and expectation at the moment. Think of the context of this innings - he came in on a hat-trick ball when India had just got two in two."

"He's the captain who put India in to bat and they've put on 127 for the first wicket and made 364 - not a huge score but certainly more than you'd want when you put a side in. Those kinds of things impact on you.

"He's Joe Root the batsman, not Joe Root the captain burdened by expectation and pressure and he's playing with great freedom."

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