x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Joe Root's knock and James Anderson's swing put England in charge

India left on 87 for 4 after the visitors took 330 runs in the first innings.

England's James Anderson took out three of the top four wickets of India to fall. Ian Kington / AFP
England's James Anderson took out three of the top four wickets of India to fall. Ian Kington / AFP

Joe Root became the new pride of Sheffield, with a composed half-century on his Test debut for England in Nagpur.

The 21 year old, who grew up watching Ashes-winning captain Michael Vaughan playing in the same Sheffield Collegiate club side as his own father, appeared in control throughout his innings of 73 in the fourth Test.

Root shared the joint-top score with Kevin Pietersen, the highlight of the first day's play to take England to a healthy total of 330. Piyush Chawla with four wickets and Ishant Sharma with three were among wickets for the hosts. James Anderson then struck at the top order, leaving India tottering at 87 for four.

Anderson's spell of three for 24 included the wickets of Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Sachin Tendulkar, the latter coming under further criticism for his repeated failures among growing calls for him to call it a day. Cheteshwar Pujara was out caught at forward short leg to Graeme Swann but replays showed the ball had grazed his elbow.

Despite the setbacks, Chawla put confidence in overnight batsmen Virat Kohli and under-fire captain MS Dhoni. "We lost a few quick wickets but we still have two quality batsmen at the crease and they are having a good partnership and seeing the ball really well.

"The morning session will be important. If we manage to play around 30-45 minutes without losing a wicket then we will be in a good position."

India will still need to work hard to change the tide of the match over the next three days, a sharp contrast to the visiting batsmen with four half-centuries on a sluggish pitch. Matt Prior (57) and Swann (56) provided able support when Root needed to dig in and anchor the innings.

England's new No 6 began his maiden innings on Thursday, but continued past his first 50 yesterday morning.

He has long been the subject of rave reviews from Performance Programme coach and former England batsman Graham Thorpe, too, but once here only he could justify the hype.

"It would be wrong to say there's no nerves when you're waiting to bat in Test cricket for the first time," said Root.

"But I've got a great team around me, who are very encouraging and very helpful.

"Then once I got in the middle, I was quite relaxed."

Vaughan, it seems, has sensibly allowed Root to find his own way but is still available if required.

"My dad played in the same side as him, so I'd go down with my brother and knock up on the side and he'd be playing.

"He's given me a bit of advice over the years, but in recent times he's just let me get on with it. It's always nice to have someone like that to talk to if you ever need to."

Root's first cap came as a surprise to many, including him, when he was picked here in place of Samit Patel. Conditions meant there would be no quick path to success once out in the middle either.

"I knew I had to just really work hard and grind it out, because the guys who'd gone in before said it was tough.

"I had to get my bearings, and stay patient. You just try to adapt to the conditions and the situation."

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