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Root reminds England importance of 'vital first 20 balls'

February 23, 2021 18:28 IST
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'It's not necessarily just been that one moment and the lights, or that twilight period. It's sometimes been right at the start of the game... later on in day four, these strange passages of play have happened.'

England captain Joe Root knows that his team has suffered batting debacle in an earlier pink ball Test and threw in a word of caution for his teammates 

IMAGE: England captain Joe Root knows that his team has suffered batting debacle in an earlier pink ball Test and threw in a word of caution for his teammates. Photograph: England Cricket/Twitter

England captain Joe Root reckons batting collapses have become a "trend" in pink-ball Tests and cannot overstate the importance of the "vital first 20 deliveries" to his team mates ahead of the third Test against India on Wednesday.

Both teams will head into the day-night contest at the world's largest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad having suffered batting debacles in their respective previous pink-ball Tests .

India were skittled out for a record low of 36 by Australia in Adelaide in December last year, while England wilted for 58 against New Zealand in their last pink-ball match in Auckland in 2018.

 

"It seems to be a trend, and it's something that as a batting group you need to make sure that you stop," Root told a video conference on Tuesday.

"One thing that stands out to me is the vital first 20 balls -- making sure you get used to tracking the ball, get used to the conditions and being very aware of how things can change throughout the day.

"It's not necessarily just been that one moment and the lights, or that twilight period. It's sometimes been right at the start of the game... later on in day four, these strange passages of play have happened.

"When you're on the right side of it, you're in the field with a ball in hand, you really got to take every opportunity and make that really count.

"Similarly with a bat in hand, you just got to really make sure that those 20 balls, you're fine."

Ravichandran Ashwin has proved to be England's nemesis in the first two Tests and, well aware of his abilities now, Root described the India off-spinner as a "world-class performer" in all conditions.

Ravichandran Ashwin has picked an impressive 17 wickets in the Test series against England so far

IMAGE: Ravichandran Ashwin has picked an impressive 17 wickets in the Test series against England so far. Photograph: BCCI

Ashwin has already taken 17 wickets in the series so far and is expected to add some more to his kitty in the third Test.

"Yeah, he (Ashwin) is a world-class performer. I think it's been quite tricky for everyone but as you mentioned, in particular, the left-handers against him... because you know how skilful he is, how good his record is against left-handers in world cricket," Root said.

The 34-year-old Ashwin has been Virat Kohli's go-to man in this series. Besides his nine wickets in the first Test and eight in second, Ashwin has also scored a century on a Chepuak track, where most of the specialist batsmen struggled against the turning ball.

"So, he is a fine performer at home and guys just have to keep working hard to try and figure out how they're going to score every run," Root added.

Root was all praise for the refurbished Motera Stadium, calling it a fantastic ground.

"It's a phenomenal stadium. I'm sure it's going to see some brilliant cricket over the years. Hopefully, the wicket can produce some very good cricket and the two sides can do that as well. I'm sure the atmosphere within will be electric.

"It was great to see fans back in the previous game and so I'm sure, with the capacity of this ground, that noise will go up again and that's what you want to be a part of in these big games," Root said.

India levelled the four-Test series 1-1 with a comprehensive victory in the second Test in Chennai.

England must win the remaining two Tests to make the final of the inaugural World Test Championship on home soil against New Zealand in June.

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