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Root not committing himself to playing sweep, keeps other options open

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Chennai, Feb 4 (IANS) Sweep shot will stay an important weapon against India spinners but England skipper Joe Root has said he has not yet committed himself to use it in the four-Test series that begins Friday at the MA Chidamabaram Stadium.

Root had scored a bulk of his runs in Sri Lanka with the sweep shot on his way to 426 runs in two Tests that helped England beat the hosts 2-0 in the Test series.

“For me it (sweep shot) is a lucrative shot, something that generates a lot of runs. But I think the conditions and the way the pitches were in Sri Lanka, that was the lowest risk option for scoring runs. That was my way of managing the field and combating what they had to offer,” said Root while adding that he would be playing in India with a more open mind and won’t rule out using alternative shots more.

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India did well against Australia to restrict Steve Smith in the first two Tests of the Border-Gavaskar series, using a leg-side field to stall his runs.

Team bowling coach Bharat Arun had earlier said that the team management would work out a plan against England batsmen during the quarantine period.

Root said that he may not eventually rely on the sweep that much.

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“It might be that there is more bounce, might be that there is not that much turn and it becomes a more dangerous shot out here. I have to find different ways of scoring runs. I suppose that is the art of batting. It is trying to implement a game and strategy of scoring runs on different surfaces. The challenge would be to assess what is right for all of us — assessing the attack they play and then pick your part and score runs. And it might be that you have to sweep as much and choose not to sweep as much. I have to find different ways of scoring,” said the England skipper.

“That is the beauty of batting. The thing that I really enjoy is that you can’t bank on one way of doing things. You have to look at different ways of scoring runs,” he added.

Root said that he would look to take the innings ball-by-ball and not go with a pre-meditated plan.

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He also opened up on how he learnt playing the sweep shot at a young age. The 30-year-old said that because he couldn’t muster up enough strength to hit the ball away from the square, he began relying on the sweep shot.

“For me as a young lad, I was very small. It took me a long time to grow and develop physically. So I had to find a way of getting the ball off the square against the spinners in particular. There wasn’t any pace to work with. And the sweep shot was the one shot that I could actually generate the most power with. So learning to play that very well was pretty much the only scoring option for my junior career,” explained the England captain who will play his 100th Test in Chennai.

He said that the initial lessons came from an overseas professional — Nadeem Khan and from his club ground where the ball spun more than usual on English surfaces.

“My club ground (had a pitch where the ball) spun quite consistently. We had a very good overseas pro in Nadeem Khan (former Pakistan Test cricketer and older brother of Pakistan wicketkeeper Moin Khan). I was able to practice against him all the time. I would speak to him all the time and even from 12-13 years of age, I had a good education on how to go about that side of the battle.”

“I think since then I have tried to develop my game a bit more broadly. Tried to work with brilliant palyers and coaches and watched a lot of cricket and a lot of guys around the world on how they go about things,” said Root.

–IANS

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