England tour of Sri Lanka
Root eyeing No 1 Test ranking
England won their first away Test series since Joe Root took over the captaincy in July 2017, as they defeated Sri Lanka in the first two Tests of the ongoing three-match series.
After winning a Test-series in Sri Lanka for the first time since 2001, Root is now targeting the top spot in the ICC Test Team Ranking for Tests, where they are currently behind India and South Africa.
“We want to get to No. 1 in the world at some point and we are going to have to be really consistent in all parts of the world to do that.
“If we keep the same attitude, drive and competition for places we will give ourselves a really good chance of getting what we want. I couldn’t be more proud of the guys,” Root reportedly said.
England adopted a horses-for-courses technique coming into this series, as there was no place for Stuart Broad – England’s second most successful bowler in Test cricket – in the squad in a bid to utilize the spin-friendly conditions.
The decision certainly paid off as their spin trio of Moeen Ali, Jack Leach, and Adil Rashid picked up 35 wickets in two matches while also setting a national record by sharing 19 wickets between them in the second Test.
With Jonny Bairstow absent in the first Test due to injury, Ben Foakes was handed his debut. He did not lose his place in the second Test when Bairstow recovered as England decided not to tinker with the winning combination, especially after Foakes hitting a century on debut.
It certainly makes Root happy as he is looking forward to seeing a healthier competition among the players in order to earn a spot in the playing eleven.
“Look at the guys we’ve got on the sidelines. We’ve got some very exciting young players and a lot of experience, and for Stuart Broad [and Bairstow] to have no played a part in this series shows the strength of the squad, and the adaptability as well.
“Around the world, we could have played a very different side with a similar well-balanced look to it.
“It’s nice to be in a position where all 17 guys could walk into the team and it wouldn’t look any less balanced, or out of place in these conditions,” said Root.
England attracted criticism for their aggressive batting approach on the first day of the second Test when they were five down for 103 runs before lunch. According to Root, the team was somewhat on a learning curve and that had a positive impact on their mindsets.
“That gave us confidence,” he said. “To come in at lunch and for that to be OK and to accept that it might not always go in our favor, I think that had a knock-on effect to how this game turned out.”
Root has scored 234 runs in this series so far, earning him his highest batting average in a series since becoming the captain. The 27-year-old belted a brilliant century in the second innings of the second Test, helping England set a 301-run target for Sri Lanka despite handing them a lead in the first innings.
England maintained a near four run-rate throughout the series and Root’s 124-run knock off 146 balls in the second innings also indicates the kind of attitude their batters showed to achieve success.
England coach Trevor Bayliss lavished praise on the captain to demand the aggressive approach from his players while also delivering a crucial knock himself.
“He [Root] was under a bit of pressure of wanting his players to go out and play that way, so it was a great innings. He was probably a little bit nervous early on, but once you got in on this wicket, it wasn't impossible to play, which we saw from a number of players getting 50s and 60s in this match. But the wicket was hard to start on so credit to him,” Bayliss said.
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