Skipper Root braces for mini-battle against Ash

Deccan Chronicle.  | C. Santhosh Kumar

Sports, Cricket

I have played against Ashwin before and scored some runs and he has got the better of me a couple of times, said England captain Root

R. Ashwin (left) and Mayank Agarwal during a training session at M. A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Wednesday. — BCCI/ PTI

Chennai: As he revealed in a recent interview, R. Ashwin likes to be involved in a battle with the opponents' best batsman. And the India off-spinner does his homework by analysing match videos. In the series against Australia, Ashwin picked Steve Smith and got the better of him three times. Ashwin’s target could be England’s in-form captain Joe Root when the Test series begins in Chennai on Friday.

Root, who scored 426 runs in a two-match series in Sri Lanka, knows what to expect from Ashwin. “I won't look to dominate or defend but just try and play the ball that is delivered. If I stay around for a period of time, I will score some big runs. He has got a great record in India and is probably full of confidence for that series,” said Root.  

The England skipper said it’s going to be a mini-battle within the Test and he is up for the challenge. “I have played against him before and scored some runs and he has got the better of me a couple of times," he said.

Root is one of the finest exponents of playing the sweep shot which is a great weapon to counter spinners on turning wickets. “In the recent itour of Sri Lanka, it (sweep) was the low-risk option taking the pitch into account while combating what their spinners had to offer. For me, it's about understanding playing on line or on length and understanding the surface, whether bounce is going to be an issue or the lateral movement or turn, and trying to factor all those in and calculate the risks to play in a shot,” he added.

The spotlight may be on Virat Kohli who is back from paternity leave but Root said Cheteshwar Pujara’s would be a “huge” wicket for England. “Pujara is a fantastic player. I had the pleasure of playing alongside him in a couple of games at Yorkshire. I have seen his importance, the value that he adds to the Indian team, he is going to be a huge wicket for us, no doubt about that. At times, we have to try our patience and play a long game and see if we can be as mentally strong as he is at the crease. It is going to be a great challenge to go up against him,” said Root.