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Foakes, Root go the perfect anti-Bazball route

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Last updated on 23 Feb 2024 | 11:48 AM
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Foakes, Root go the perfect anti-Bazball route

On Day 1 in the fourth Test in Ranchi, England finally decided to absorb the pressure instead of being needlessly funky

Bazball, as the England management and players advertise it, is all about playing positive cricket. There have been claims about chasing 600, coming back in a series after being 0-2 down, justifying batters playing the worst shot of their career and what not. 

England have tried their best to back these assertions, achieving success at an appreciable level. But there have also been times when the team has looked stupid. 

One thing missing from England Bazballing around is the ability to absorb pressure when needed. That is just how Test cricket works. Grinding out a tough phase of play, especially when you know what the opposition is trying to do. 

England have failed at that many times. In this series itself, they went from 224/2 to 319 all out after a calamitic morning session on Day 3. That is when Mark Wood, in the press conference a day before, had mentioned that the first session would be crucial. However, Joe Root got out in a needless attempt to ramp Jasprit Bumrah over the slip cordon, which opened the door for the hosts. 

On the contrary, Yashasvi Jaiswal, on multiple occasions, has shown how taking time at the start can unlock you to achieve bigger things. 

While Ben Duckett, after Jaiswal finished Day 3 of the Rajkot Test retired hurt on 104, suggested England deserved some credit for inspiring other teams to bat aggressively, it looks like England have taken a leaf out of Jaiswal’s book. 

On Day 1 in the fourth Test in Ranchi, England finally decided to absorb the pressure before things completely went out of their hands. 

When Ben Foakes joined Root in the middle to kick off the afternoon session, England had slipped from 47/0 to 57/3 and then 112/5. It appeared to be the same old story of the visitors losing wickets in clumps. 

However, the pitch eased out to bat post lunch. Moreover, Root and Foakes decided to dig in instead of trying funky strokes. The duo added 86 runs in a wicketless session, the first for England in the series, batting out 36.5 overs. 

Overall, they added 113 runs batting 43.3 overs. England have had 27 100-plus stands since Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum took over. The run rate of 2.8 between Root and Foakes’ stand is the lowest of them all. 

However, it did the job of first arresting the collapse and keeping England in hunt for a respectable first innings score. 

Foakes has been the most unlike-Bazball batter in the series, scoring at the lowest strike rate (40.4)  for an England batter (minimum 100 runs). England have had two 100-run stands in this series now and Foakes has been a part of both - contributing 34 in a 112-run p’ship with Ollie Pope in Hyderabad and now 47 in a 113-run stand alongside Root. 

Root, meanwhile, was just himself. He has been the culprit of gifting his wicket, leading to the joke that Root has bowled more overs in the series than runs he has scored. In the second innings in Visakhapatnam, he looked like a million dollars before trying a slog that captured one of the ugliest dismissals of his career. He repeated it in Rajkot as mentioned above. 

This innings was about dead batting that once made the former cricketer Tino Best tweet that “watching Root is like watching paint dry.” It might be boring at times but it is effective. 

The Yorkshireman had a control percentage of 92.5%, his highest in an innings where he has played over 30 balls under the Bazball regime.

Root was rigid throughout. He took 60 balls to go from 41 to 60 which, for any aggressive batter, is that part of the innings where he would press the accelerator. He spent another 24 balls in the 80s alone to keep Mohammed Siraj in the middle of a rampaging spell at bay. 

Overall, it was a quintessential Root innings, not the one who has added the Bazball flavor to his batting style but the one who just sticks to his methods. England ended Day 1 at 302/7 with Root unbeaten at 106 off 226 balls. 

His knock, and the partnership with Foakes, can instill England’s faith that while it is okay to play attacking and aggressive cricket, it is also vital to pick their moments and not absorb the pressure when needed. 

Attack is the best form of defence. But not always.. 

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