England’s Test captain Joe Root on Friday said skipping the lucrative IPL auction for a third successive year was a “very difficult decision” and he made the call considering the national team’s packed schedule this year. The IPL auction is scheduled on February 18 in Chennai with a total of 292 players set to go under the hammer including Root’s compatriots Moeen Ali, Jason Roy and Mark Wood. “It’s a very difficult decision. I am desperate to be part of an IPL season and hopefully a few more beyond,” Root, who scored a match-winning 218 to lead England to a massive 227-run victory in the series opener, said.
One up in the four-match series, England are in contention for the only available spot for the inaugural ICC World Test Championship final at the Lord’s from June 18-22.
England know that two more wins in their remaining three Tests in India will see them qualify for the WTC final against New Zealand.
Root and Co will take on Kiwis in a two-Test series at home before the coveted five Tests Ashes against Australia series Down Under. They also host India for five Tests starting August.
“With the amount of Test cricket in particular this year, didn’t feel like it was the right time, didn’t feel like I could throw all my energy into it, which I think it deserves.
“I don’t think it would serve English cricket best with what’s to come… So, a very difficult decision. Hopefully next year, there’s more of an opportunity to potentially be a part of the IPL, or at least be in the auction.”
Taking about the second Test, Root said he is well aware of the challenge his team faces despite winning the series opener convincingly.
“It certainly provides a stern challenge but it’s not going to be as not as tough as being 1-0 down. We are in a really good position. We played brilliant cricket and will take a lot of confidence forward into this week. But we won’t get ahead of ourselves.”
“I think we’re very understanding of how much hard work, it’s going to take to win in these conditions we see that first hand in the last week… So, we know what it’s going to require with that challenge… excited.”
India skipper Virat Kohli top-scored for India in their second innings of the first Test with a sublime 72-run.
England have their plans in place for Kohli but Root said he is bound to score runs at some point in the series.
“In the first innings of the first Test, Bessy (Dom Bess) produced a brilliant delivery to get rid of him. We have to keep delivering our best balls time and again and try and build pressure on him. We know he is one of the world’s best players and desperate to prove a point this week.”
Root was really impressed by how his team implemented the game plan in the first Test.
“We managed to get those big first innings runs that we often talk about. I want to be delivering those big performances that will help us win this series and we have the talent to do that,” Root said.
England will miss their strike pace bowler Jofra Archer due to an elbow injury, making Ben Stokes’ role with the ball more crucial.
“Yeah, he absolutely can. He looks in good shape. We have to be quite smart about him. In the last game he looked a little uncomfortable at times. The more and more he bowls he will look comfortable.
“The more he gets into the series he is going to be asking for the ball and change things and make an impact. It is exciting to think that there is a lot more to come from him still,” he said.
England have left out James Anderson despite his heroic effort in the first Test but Root said it gives the 38-year-old veteran pacer an opportunity to come back fresh in the final two Tests in Ahmedabad.
“Everyone’s heart was in favour of him being available for this game, but also you look at the bigger picture… We want to give James the best chance to be fit and firing in the last two games.
“And ideally if he is available for two of the last three that’s a huge asset for us as a team,” the skipper concluded.
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