Root digs in to defy India

The Bolton News: Joe Root scored an impressive 73 on his Test debut Joe Root scored an impressive 73 on his Test debut

Debutant Joe Root was England's joint top-scorer in a hard-working 330 all out on the second afternoon of the final Test against India.

The 21-year-old Yorkshireman, a surprise inclusion for this match which England must at least draw to complete a series victory, rose to the occasion with a determined 229-ball innings of 73.

Root's range of stroke, like everyone else's, was constrained by the limitations of a deathly slow Nagpur pitch. But he became increasingly assured, in a century stand with Matt Prior (57) for the sixth wicket and then one of 60 for the eighth with Graeme Swann (56).

After Kevin Pietersen also made 73 on Thursday, Root could therefore take much of the credit for ensuring England dug out a total of substance after stumbling first to 16 for two and then 139 for five.

Root and Prior's first task on Friday was to negotiate another spell from Ishant Sharma, in these extreme conditions which have made India's solitary seamer a bigger threat than any of their four spinners.

There were no scrapes against any of the bowlers, though, until Prior succumbed to Ravichandran Ashwin. The off-spinner struck, from round the wicket, with a delivery that did not turn but snaked past Prior's defensive push on the angle to hit off-stump.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni sensibly turned straight back to Ishant (three for 49), to attack the new batsman, and that obvious switch worked when Tim Bresnan missed an inswinger to go for a second-ball duck.

Root was to go first after lunch - untypically up the wicket to drive leg-spinner Piyush Chawla and succeeding only in chipping back a return catch.

He had little reason for self-reproach - a statement which also applied to Swann, despite the regrettable attempted reverse-sweep which eventually proved his undoing lbw to Chawla.

The leg-spinner also picked up the last wicket, that of James Anderson thanks to a sharp catch straight off the face of the bat by Cheteshwar Pujara at short-leg, to give Chawla flattering figures of four for 69.

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