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Joe Root credits England's agressive approach for first overseas Test victory in two years

The Independent logo The Independent 09/11/2018 Ed Malyon
David Freese holding a baseball bat © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

Joe Root has credited England’s aggressive approach for their first overseas Test win in two years, despite it getting his side in trouble on day one.

England secured their first-ever victory over Sri Lanka in Galle with a day to spare in a dominant performance, but things looked very different after the first morning as the tourists fell to 103/5.

And England captain Root insists he is glad that his side stuck to their plan, as the result proves their process was correct.

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“We probably took a bit of flak for the way we played [in the first session] but I think that was the execution of certain shots that was the frustrating thing.

“If we’d have sort of sat in our bunker and just waited for a good ball on that surface when it was tacky and spinning quite quickly then we could have been 50/5 and it’s a lot more difficult from that position.

“I think that you look at the first two dismissals and it could have easily been three down [rather than five] anyway.

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“You’ve got a good ball, first ball [to Ali] and [Rory Burns] caught down the legside. It’s very different if you take those two dismissals out of it.

“The fact that we’d taken the game to them, got to 100, meant that we’d at least applied a bit of pressure and got ourselves to some sort of substance and as the pitch changed the really pleasing thing was that we adapted from that point.”

From there, debutant Ben Foakes took over, scoring a century to help England to a respectable first innings score. But it was imperative that the Surrey man dug in, and his innings was so impressive in turning the momentum of the game that it won him the man of the match award despite Keaton Jennings scoring an unbeaten 146 second time around.

“That partnership between Jos [Buttler] and [Ben] Foakes was vital after lunch and from that point on we were pretty much in control of things. Really pleasing to be in this position going into the second game.

“For Ben in his first game to recognise that and to play the way he did from that point, and Sam [Curran] as well, two young lads on their first overseas tour in an England shirt, was great and from that point on we felt in control of things.

“With the ball, having in-out fields might look slightly defensive at times but having almost been bold enough to say ‘go on, score at three or four an over in singles’ and really tried to put the pressure on by drying up the boundaries it can be quite frustrating at times if you feel like they’re rotating the strike but the way we held our nerve, the way we trusted those plans was great.

“To follow that up with some high-skill bowling was brilliant.”

Should England be able to secure a series win on the sub-continent then it will be a significant step in their evolution under Root, and the Yorkshireman fully believes in the roadmap that he, Trevor Bayliss and Andrew Strauss have laid out.

“This last eight months or so we’ve found something, we’ve had a real clear plan and path as to how we want to get to be the number one side in the world and we’ve grown throughout the summer and this was another step in that direction.

“We’ve got so much more hard work to do but to see so many talented players – whether they be in the XI or in the squad – around and so many different options is, I think, a credit to the whole group.”

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