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24 Mar 2023, Edition - 2810, Friday

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Joe Root: England’s recent record against spin is up there with the best

The Guardian


Joe Root is confident England can banish the notion they are vulnerable to spin once and for all in Sri Lanka.

The prevalence of seam bowlers in England has often left the national side under-prepared for trips to the sub-continent, where conditions are more conducive to turn, but the Test captain and one-day batsman believes the current generation are ready to change that.

Only 15 overs were possible before rain washed out the first one-day international but Saturday’s second match in Dambulla should provide a longer look at Sri Lanka’s spinners Akila Dananjaya and Lakshan Sandakan.

“I think we’ve certainly got it in us. There’s been signs of that and as a team, our record against spin is right up there, if not the best in the world over the last couple of years,” he said. “This is another opportunity to show everyone how good we are against spin and to perform well on these surfaces.

“To do that it’s important to understand the rhythm of batting here is very different to back home. The way we structure setting a target or chasing one down might be very different to how we go about it at home.”

Dananjaya bowls a mix and match combination of off-breaks, leg-breaks and googlies, while Sandakan offers rarely-spotted left-arm wrist spin.

Sri Lanka’s captain, Dinesh Chandimal, said on the eve of the series that the England pair Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid were unable to offer such “mystery spin” but Root is not letting tags cloud his judgment.

“Every bowler you’ve never faced before is mystery, because you don’t know what you’re going to get,” he said. “You can get yourself out by talking yourself out. Most importantly you prepare, watch the footage, see how they operate and go and play accordingly.

“But I think Rash would be a bit disappointed by saying there’s no mystery about how he bowls. He has a few tricks in his bag and I’m sure you’ll see that on these surfaces.”

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