Root rearguard leaves England praying for rain

The Northern Echo: SAD END: Joe Root shows his disappointment to fall for 87 SAD END: Joe Root shows his disappointment to fall for 87

JOE ROOT played arguably his best innings yet to help push the Adelaide Test into a final day but insisted it will rank highly for him only if England somehow hold out.

That seemed unlikely even after the young Yorkshireman had contributed 87 and shared a stand of 111 with Kevin Pietersen (53) in England’s 247 for six.

Root met the might of Mitchell Johnson with a straight bat and a habitual cheery smile when Australia’s demon bowler turned verbal.

But despite his individual efforts, the likeliest outcome is a second defeat for England, leaving them 2-0 down heading to Perth for the third Test.

If that is the case, Root will take no pleasure from his personal performance.

When it was put to him this could have been his most rewarding performance to date, he replied: ‘‘Ask me if we get a result at the end of the game.

‘‘To me, if we’re losing Test matches – regardless of your scores – you’re not going to pride yourself on your performance.’’ Root had not given up hope, even with only four wickets to try to survive 90 more overs in theoretical pursuit of a worldrecord 531 for a series-levelling victory.

Forecast of rain may enter an equation in which England’s new number three will have no further say.

Matt Prior and Stuart Broad reached the close unbeaten, after several scrapes each against Johnson and Ryan Harris with the second new ball.

‘‘If there’s a bit of weather about, I think we might be able to get a draw,’’ said Root.

‘‘We’re obviously up against it. But I thought Matty and Stuart were exceptional, they showed a lot of fight.

‘‘Obviously, we’ve got a lot of good things to take from today – and I hope we can do that for the rest of this game, and the series.’’ Root will take encouragement from day four in Adelaide, whatever the eventual outcome, because he believes England have shown what they are really made of.

He said: ‘‘Certainly, we had a scrap on. We knew we had to front up today, and try to put in a performance and show we were up for a fight.

‘‘We knew we had to make sure everyone watching and playing knew we were in a battle and weren’t going to lie down, we were going to show a bit of courage.

‘‘We’re going to have to continue to do that and make sure we’re out there for as long as possible and make it as hard for Australia as we can.’’ Root was unfazed by the altercations Johnson tried to instigate.

He added: ‘‘I didn’t feel there was anything wrong going on out there.

‘‘You want to play hard cricket, and it’s Ashes cricket – you’d expect that.

‘‘You’d be disappointed if there wasn’t a bit of rivalry. I think it makes entertaining cricket to watch.

‘‘It’s certainly good to be involved in that in the middle.

You know you’re in a battle ...

you know you’ve got to fight for your country.’’ Johnson’s fellow seamer Peter Siddle made light of a couple of scenes – particularly involving Broad near the close – which caught the eye.

He said: ‘‘It was a tough day and Mitch was trying to get the job done. There wasn’t much to it.’’ Root’s favoured response is to grin and say little back.

‘‘You’ve got to find your own way of doing it,’’ he said.

‘‘They were just trying to get under my skin, and hoping they could find a way to get me out.

‘‘I’d expect that to happen.

I’d expect any team to do that.

‘‘It’s good confrontation. I like to get in a battle with the opposition. It’s good, hard cricket – what the Ashes is all about.’’ Root’s innings made a nonsense of those suggesting he should drop back down from number three, in favour of Ian Bell, after just one attempt there.

There was encouragement too at last for Prior, whose unbeaten 31 was a step back in the right direction after a miserable run of form.

Root said: ‘‘Matt’s a class act, and I know there’s a score just round the corner for him – whether it be this game, Perth, Melbourne, wherever.’’

  • Centuries from opening pair Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla and four wickets from Lonwabo Tsotsobe earned South Africa a seriesclinching 134-run victory over India in Durban.

De Kock (106) and Amla (100) put on a stand of 194 for the opening wicket as the Proteas posted a total of 280 for six.

That proved well out of the tourists’ reach as Tsotsobe and Dale Steyn ripped through their line-up with four for 25 and three for 17 respectively as India were dismissed for 146.

The win put South Africa 2-0 up in the three-match series.

Steyn struck first for the hosts as he had Shikhar Dhawan caught at backward point by JP Duminy for a duck.

Tsotobe’s first victim was Virat Kohli, also for nought, De Kock taking an outside edge behind the stumps.

Tsotobe then removed opener Rohit Sharma for 19 and Morne Morkel got rid of Ajinkya Rahane for eight to leave India on 34 for four.

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