It was in India that Joe Root first got a taste of international cricket. Stroking 73 in his maiden Test knock in Nagpur back in December 2012, he played an important part in the drawn game that also helped England win a series in India after 28 long years.
It will be in India again that the England skipper is expected to play his 100th Test on Friday when the four-match series gets underway in Chennai.
Root, 30, is aiming to become only the fourth post-war England captain (after Tony Greig, David Gower and Alastair Cook) to win a series in India.
He is aware though of the challenges that await him and his teammates in what could be England’s toughest tour in the last few years, against a side high on confidence after a brilliant series win in Australia.
But just stepping back for a moment, Root does reflect on the day (December 13, 2012) when he walked out to bat for the first time on the big stage as since then, he has been “living a dream”.
“Walking out for the first time to bat in my debut (international) game is probably the proudest moment for me. Walking out to bat and seeing Kevin Pietersen standing at the other end, someone who I watched as a teenager and as a kid growing up, I just couldn’t stop smiling as I was living my childhood dream,” Root said during a virtual interaction on Thursday.
“You know, if I’m ever going through a spell where things aren’t quite falling into place for me, I then try and look back at that moment and remember what that feeling was like. And I just embrace that.
“I’m really excited to bring that into the current situation as I’m still living the dream. So it’s probably one thing that stands out for me and something that I always go back to.”
Root comes to his 100th Test at his peak, fresh off an invigorating double hundred and a century in Sri Lanka and a pair of victories, which leaves him one shy of Michael Vaughan’s record of most wins as England captain.
Cut to the present and the challenge that presents itself against a mighty India. Root — who said he would use his favourite sweep shot as per need —knows that alongside his batting, his captaincy too will be tested, especially how he handles Jack Leach, Dom Bess and Moeen Ali against Indian batsmen who are better players of spin than most.
“Root’s captaincy and field settings will play a huge part in determining how successful England spinners could be, so planning will be essential,” Isa Guha, commentator and former England cricketer, told The Telegraph.
“India would want to attack the spinners and pounce on any loose bowling to force Root to make changes, so I feel he’ll be hugely reliant on his experienced quicks and their ability to get the reverse swing,” Isa added.