The greatest thing about Cricket, if you thought, was just the runs scored then perhaps it makes perfect sense to put forth a reasonable argument that isn’t so and is anything but the full story. For what matters more than runs or a milestone, if at all, is the condition in which a milestone is reached and the runs scored.
Would you agree?
Whether you’d agree or not, it can be said with a certain modicum of confidence that Joe Root, 173 runs from the just-drawn contest, could perhaps nod his head in approval.
Having had no sizeable contributions from either Jos Buttler or Jonny Bairstow, with there being no Ben Stokes around and a top-order that features a Crawley with an average of 11 (2021 numbers)- this was the Joe that became the Root cause of India’s struggles.
That’s even as Bumrah and Siraj were totally all over the English lineup.
Purely from a fan perspective, what spurred the view, it could be said that the English captain fired the opening salvo in the Virat v Root debate.
Moreover, on a pitch where only Rahul came close to touching a three-figure mark, that Joe Root brought up his 21st ton was an effort no less incredible than being an Olympian weightlifter; someone who willingly shoulders the bulwark of scoring for an entire team.
The kind of performance Root gave, was a strong indication of earlier in 2021, scoring 426 (highest score of 228) runs from just 2 Tests versus Sri Lanka.
The volcanic appetite to score runs was just as visible as a batting average that would cause tremors to any bowler: 106!
Moreover, it’s the kind of effort that one noted in the rain-affected day on which one may not be wrong to say, saved the day for England. Not that the Indian bowlers were spared the majestic whip from one of the game’s most charismatic and gentle bats.
Though, a Joe Root who we saw a soldier on without having substantial or should one say, in-form batting support from the other end was anything but the batsman who came to India months back.
Nearly a quarter of a year back, with his team travelling to Virat Kohli-land tussling a powerful host side besides heat and perspiring atmospherics when Joe Root encountered a horrific Test series loss, the English fan thought to himself what on earth had happened?
More specifically, the question was out to the man in whose command rested the responsibility to lead akin to a true guardian of an outfit and produce runs. Make no mistake, this when his side was a fairly balanced one having established marksmen in the likes of Bairstow and Buttler.
But the key predicament was- not the lack of Joe Root runs as such- but the regularity with which the Yorkshireman was producing them.
For someone who began with a bang, thudding- not scoring- 218 wild runs despite staying put for 377 deliveries, which is well over an ODI inning in itself, the Root one saw in the First Test was nowhere near the one seen in the contest that followed.
How was it that the man who began the India tour with an illustrious double century couldn’t even touch a fifty? henceforth is something no English sector would be able to solve.
Believe it or not,
Here’s simple evidence.
Of the 368 runs Root scored in that series, 218 came in that maiden Test. The next games wouldn’t even yield a fifty.
But that being told, the Joe Root of today is a different creature, back with his instinct for domination, exemplified by the fact that he’s already scored 1,094 of his 8,000 plus Test runs have already come in 2021.
That’s when this series has 4 more Tests remaining and the year with as many more months.
Truth be told, the way he’s begun, caring little for whether he has sufficient support from the other end, it’ll take something special for Kohli and company to uproot a Root that doesn’t seem as if it’s willing to be felled.
As the saying goes, you can cut a tree but can erase the roots. Can you, Mr Virat Kohli?
The series is still young and Root is just getting started!