Eleven years ago (December 2012), in the decider Test (fourth Test) against India, Joe Root made his debut. With a lead of 2-1, all England needed was a draw to win the series. However, they were in trouble at 119/4 in the first innings, and 20 runs later, a set and in-form Kevin Pietersen (73) also departed.
At the fall of the fourth wicket, a young Root stepped in against quality spin from all ends for the first time. From that difficult position, he added 73 runs and took England to a respectable total of 330, building handy partnerships with Matt Prior (103-run stand for sixth wicket) and Graeme Swann (60-run stand for eighth wicket). His first-innings heroics helped them draw the Test and clinch the series.
That's how stories of legends start!!
Every batter in his career has that one team he looks up to for scoring, and for Root, there is no doubt - it is India. Irrespective of the conditions, he just loves to score against them. As a testimony, here is something that shows his love: Root has played six series against India and has a century in each of those, except his debut (he scored 73 & 20*).
In 47 innings, he has 2557 runs at a staggering average of 60.9. The right-hander has hit nine centuries and ten half-centuries against India. These are the most runs by a batter against India in Tests. With his first run in the second innings of the first Test, he went past Ricky Ponting's tally of 2555 runs in 51 innings.
A large chunk of his runs have come on home turf, 61.6% (1574 out of 2557). While Root averages 74.95 at home, his average is close to the 50 mark in away games against India. Not bad, right? His remaining 983 runs have come at an average of 46.8, with two centuries in India.
How is it you succeed against India in their backyard? The answer is simple: be an exceptional player against spin. However, it is easier said than done against the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. Most of the top batters struggle to achieve this and fight for survival. But that is not the case with Root.
Overall, Root averages 48.2 against spin in India. In any case, against Ashwin and Jadeja combined, his average is even better. In 19 innings, he has 474 runs at an average of 58 against the two. Among batters who have faced 250+ balls against Ashwin and Jadeja in India, only Dinesh Chandimal (83) has a better average than Root.
Because of his mediocre record against Axar Patel (seven innings, three dismissals at an average of 23.3) and Jayant Yadav (five innings, two dismissals at 10.5), his overall record has taken a hit. The right-hander averages 73.8 against Ashwin (295 runs) and 42.3 against Jadeja (169 runs). Here's a bonus: Among 19 batters who have faced 200+ balls against Ashwin in India, none average better than Root.
He has the most runs in Tests between the two teams, surpassing Sachin Tendulkar’s 2539 runs. His nine centuries are the joint-most with Steven Smith's against India in Tests. If there is one batter whom England can trust day in and day out when playing against India, you know who.
Root might have been uprooted in the first Test (29 and 2) but beware the monster in the upcoming four games.
Why Bairstow’s barren run is as problematic as Root’s slump
Just an average Joe, Root
The alpha, deceived by his toothless pack, waged a lone battle
Kane Williamson and the Indian saga
Festoon of records for Root as he hits the most runs in a year as captain and many more
Quickest to 9k runs, 5th ton of the year - Records galore for Joe Root
A gritty Joe Root stands as the barrier for India again
Root becomes the highest run scorer as he extends his dominance against India
Can Joe Root make the cut to England’s side for the T20 World Cup?