Ben Duckett defends Joe Root’s dismissal as England crumble against India

By Sports Desk February 17, 2024

Ben Duckett defended Joe Root despite the Yorkshireman’s ugly dismissal that sparked an England batting collapse and left India in the driving seat in the third Test.

Root directed a reverse ramp he has made a specialty in the last couple of years into the slip cordon off India pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah as England crumbled from a competitive 224 for two to 319 all out and a first-innings deficit of 126.

Ashes 2005-winning captain Michael Vaughan tweeted Root is “far too good to gift India such a cheap wicket” although it is a shot he has used 22 times in the past, bringing 60 runs and one dismissal.

After India ended day three 322 ahead on a Rajkot pitch showing signs of sharp turn, Duckett argued Root, who is yet to pass 30 in five attempts in this series, was correct to go for it as he did.

“I’d be interested to know if those people were against it when he was doing it to (Australia captain) Pat Cummins and hitting him for six in last summer’s Ashes,” Duckett said. “I’ve no words for it.

“It’s the same as me playing a reverse sweep and getting caught at point. Options are practised and that shot has been very successful for him over the past year, so next time it may go over slip.”

Duckett was seen off by a Kuldeep Yadav long hop after a majestic 153 off 151 balls while Ben Stokes, on his 100th Test, holed out to cow corner on 41 but Root’s downfall was the major talking point.

India were effectively down to 10 men without Ravichandran Ashwin, who can only be replaced in the field and not as a batter or bowler following his overnight withdrawal because of a family emergency.

But England lost their last five wickets in 38 balls before Yashasvi Jaiswal ground them into the dirt – despite their willingness in sapping heat – as India went to stumps on 196 for two.

“It was one of those days when I feel we have to give credit to India,” Duckett said. “We want to take the positive option and I get more frustrated when I get caught at silly point, playing a nothing shot.

“I’d much rather get out putting the bowling under pressure and getting caught on the fence at times – as long as it’s a shot that you play and have practised thousands and thousands of times.

“We’ll come back (on Sunday) and give it our best.”

Duckett had carried England to 207 for two overnight off just 35 overs with a swaggering 88-ball ton, taking on all of India’s bowlers, including Ashwin, who had tormented the left-hander in 2016.

Indeed, Duckett lasted just two Tests into a five-match series but after six years out of the side, he has become indispensable on his second coming, averaging a shade under 50 in 30 innings.

“It’s obviously a very tough place to come and tour and I’ve said a lot over the last so many years that I wasn’t the first left-hander to struggle against Ashwin,” Duckett added.

“It’s the backing of this team that means I can go out and play with the freedom that I did here. It probably wasn’t the same back then. I’m not a completely different player to what I was.”

Jaiswal followed up his sparkling double century in Visakhapatnam with 104 before retiring hurt with a sore back on Saturday and Duckett believes the 22-year-old is taking his cues from England’s attacking style.

“When you see players from the opposition playing like that, it almost feels like we should take some credit that they’re playing differently than how other people play Test cricket,” Duckett added.

“We saw it a bit in the summer and it’s quite exciting to see other players and other teams are also playing that aggressive style of cricket.

“He looks like a superstar in the making, unfortunately he’s in some very good form at the moment. He’s due a couple of low ones.”

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