“Curious Things”: Former England captain Michael Atherton Weighs In On Ranchi Pitch Debate After Joe Root Ton

Written by Shreyas Vyas

Joe Root smashed an unbeaten century to help England post 353 in the first innings of their fourth Test against India in Ranchi. Root, who had come under severe criticism in the 3rd Test, led the charge with the bat, smashing an unbeaten 122 after the visitors opted to bat. England were reeling at 112/5 at one stage before Root led the recovery on Day 1, stitching crucial partnerships with Jonny Bairstow (38), Ben Foakes (47) and Ollie Robinson (58). Former England captain Michael Atherton spoke on how the visitors should approach the game on Day 2.

The former also weighed in on the much-talked-about Ranchi pitch. He suggested that the track played much better post Lunch session.

“It played better than it looked. It was significantly more difficult in the morning when the ball was new after lunch. When the ball got a bit older, it kind of flattened out really. And the danger was the ball that kept low. Ben Stokes got one of those at the point of lunch. But generally, when the ball got older after lunch, it flattened out. It was quite difficult to score because the bounce was low, but it wasn’t that threatening. So I think the new ball is very important,” Atherton told Sky Sports.

Atherton also urged the England bowlers to make good use of the new ball in the morning session on Day 2.

“The new ball is due for India tomorrow morning and then when England gets a crack at it. Anderson and Robinson, the new ball is going to be very important to make 2 or 3 inroads. Try and get 2 or 3 wickets to make it a little easier for the spinners later on. But pitches are curious things. They can sometimes play a bit better than they look and this is probably one of those. So the early stages of Day 2 will be absolutely crucial in then dictating maybe what follows. 350 is a pretty good 1st innings score on this pitch,” he added.

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Shreyas Vyas