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On eve of his 100th Test, Root recalls debut as an excitable lad

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Chennai, Feb 4 (IANS) The first Test against India, beginning here on Friday, will mark the 100th Test for England captain Joe Root, who will reach the milestone ahead of the other members of the ‘Big Four’ Test batsmen — Virat Kohli (87 Tests), Steve Smith (77), and Kane Williamson (83).

Root, who will become England’s 15th batsman to play a century of Tests, is just 214 runs behind Alec Stewart’s career aggregate of 8,463 runs and this series will most probably see him overtake the former England captain to become the third highest run-getter for his country.

The right-handed batsman is coming off a successful series in Sri Lanka where he scored 426 runs in two Tests and England’s chances, if they are to do well in India, will hinge on him once again.

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The 30-year-old called his debut Test the best moment of his life, something he recalls when he needs an inspiration.

“Walking out for the first time in an England shirt would probably be the proudest moment. I look back at walking out to bat and seeing Kevin Pietersen at the other end, someone I watched as a teenager and as a kid growing up, and I just couldn’t stop smiling,” Root told the media on Thursday.

“I was living my childhood dream and have been ever since. Whenever I am going through a lean spell or things aren’t falling for me, I try to look back at that moment and remember what that feeling was like — I almost try and embrace that really excitable young lad and bring that into the current situation. I still am living the dream. That’s probably the one thing that stands out and I will always go back to and look fondly on.”

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India skipper Kohli called him one of the big impact players in international cricket and someone who his team always looks to dismiss early on.

“Firstly, big congratulations to Joe. Playing 100 Tests is no small achievement and he can be very proud of being in this journey and continuing to do so. He has got many years of cricket still left in him. I have got good memories of watching Joe on the international scene. He probably got a head-start compared to all the other three in that group of four. You see the impact players in international cricket and Joe has been one of them for a while now,” said Kohli and added that the term ‘Big Four’ has been created by the media.

“As opposition you try and disrupt the opposition’s batting plans. And when we play England, Joe is the one wicket that we look to get early on in the innings. That is a compliment to his game, to longevity and consistency over so many years. He has got a great game, understands situation very well. We have spoken more in the last couple of series than we have in the past. Hopefully in the future we can sit and have a long chat on how the journeys have gone on and have played for so many years. I am happy and pleased to see that he has played 100 Tests and many more to come.”

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The first and second Tests will be played at the MA Chidambaram Stadium here.

–IANS

kh/qma

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