Ever since Joe Root made it to the England squad, his inclusion has contributed to the team’s steep rise. Root has managed to impress in every Test-playing country with his ability to adapt not just to the conditions but also play according to the situation. In every format, Root sits pretty much at the top as his batting average in the high forties would suggest.
Before landing in India, he was playing in South African conditions. He had two centuries in the ODI series. His two previous knocks in the WT20 are another example of how he changes his approach quickly and rarely looks in trouble. And, the way he has been using the crease here in India is worth analysing. In both the games, against West Indies and South Africa, Root seems to have taken a leaf out of AB de Villiers’ book.
The South African is a pioneer in improvising strokes using the crease in the T20 format and Root seems to have followed him. Root stands tall in his stance, indicating that he is a strong back-foot player. So, just before the ball is about to be released, Root takes his hind leg back, deep into the crease. This gives him extra time to play the ball and decide where to place his stroke. This is also helping him against spinners. As he goes back, a good-length ball becomes short for him and he easily aims for the leg-side.
His previous two wagon wheels have high concentration of runs on the leg-side. Root’s ploy reaped rewards against the South Africans, where his knock of 83 helped England chase 229. He played the short ball at ease but, more importantly, he was aware that the bowlers would also try to aim at the blockhole. By retreating, Root ensured that he could take the delivery on the full and, sometimes, even make them half volleys.
With England facing Afghanistan at the Kotla on Wednesday, coach Inzamam-ul-Haq too rated Root as a class player. “He is a great player. The best thing about him is the way he adapts to conditions and assesses the situation. Moreover, rotating the strike is his best strength and any player who does that will win matches for his country,” he said.