- Joe Root reminded us why he is one of the greats on the first day in Ranchi, India
- Recovered from his reverse ramp in Rajkot and judged things perfectly
- Ben Foakes also deserves applause, but India got a couple of things wrong
Before this Test I said England didn’t need to move away from Bazball, they just needed to be smarter with it. And the first day in Ranchi, they were really very smart.
It wasn’t just the innings of Joe Root and Ben Foakes, although we’ll get to those in a moment. You could also see it in the way the likes of Zak Crawley and Jonny Bairstow, two players who rely more on their attack than their defence, decided their best approach on a difficult pitch before lunch was to put pressure on the bowlers again.
Root, on the other hand, decided to absorb the pressure, and England have repeatedly said it is an important facet of their playing. It’s not just about working hard, despite what people think. And, with Foakes, he helped turn a precarious 112 for five into a much healthier 302 for seven for stumps on the first day.
Fundamentally, these are two players who trust their defense more than some of the guys around them, and they played the situation beautifully, which is all Ben Stokes ever asks of his team.
Root judged things perfectly. Make no mistake, he must have been criticized for the reverse ramp that cost him his wicket against Jasprit Bumrah in Rajkot, and you could see the steel in his eyes as he reached his milestone. We are so used to seeing him play with a smile on his face. Here, it was as if he was sending everyone a message: I’m Joe Root and I’m one of the greats.
Joe Root judged things perfectly on the first day in Ranchi and proved that he is one of the greats.
He recovered from his reverse ramp that cost him during the third test with a big hit
Ben Foakes was also excellent, moving completely back and forth and trusting his defence.
You don’t get 31 hundreds of tests and over 11,500 runs without the ability to analyze your own game. Before this match, the captain asked his team for a bit of self-reflection, and Root has been doing that throughout his career.
It’s not just the reverse ramp that will have been on your mind. He has given him a lot of runs over the last two years and I have no doubt that he will use them again when he feels the situation demands it. Mistakes happen all the time in sport: it’s how you react to them that counts.
Mail Sport columnist Nasser Hussain
What will have bothered him the most is the fact that he did not score the runs he expected from himself in the first three Tests. And you could see his determination to adapt on a low-bounce Ranchi pitch, especially after seeing Stokes fall on a roller just before lunch.
If he barely swept and backed away, it’s because he decided the conditions were not conducive to shooting. Don’t forget: this is one of the best sweep shot players in England history. If he makes the shot it is because he has verified that the field of play is not on his side. Bairstow’s dismissal would have reminded him of that too.
Great players find a way and Root confirmed his greatness here. Foakes was also outstanding, moving back and forth completely and trusting his defense. He’s been caught with the tail a couple of times in this series, but you could see how much he enjoyed having Root at the other end, and he got the rhythm out of him.
I thought India had got a couple of things wrong. This seems like a new ball pitch to me, and I would have opened it after lunch with a seamer (probably Akash Deep, who bowled so well in the morning) and a spinner. But Rohit Sharma opted for two spinners, when the ball was not even 25 overs old.
India made a couple of mistakes. Rohit Sharma used two spinners early on and refused to take the second new ball, giving England’s batsmen a chance to get comfortable.
Don’t take anything away from Joe Root. This was the day he reminded us of his sporting greatness
This was a big day for Root and Foakes, but England still have a lot to do on day two.
Then at the end of the day, with the second new ball available, Rohit refused to take it, when Deep or Mohammed Siraj could have taken one or two more wickets.
But let’s take nothing away from Root: this was the day he reminded us why, when he finally leaves the game, he will be England’s leading Test scorer by a mile in the country.