India v England: Joe Root justifies his surprise selection

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Joe Root

England's decision to give Joe Root his debut in such a huge match against India in the fourth Test was a surprise, but it certainly looks like a good selection so far.

It was a brilliant start to the 21-year-old's Test career, as he did everything which was expected of him when he was given his chance in place of Samit Patel.

Not once during the build-up to the game did I see the headline "Joe Root must play", but the way he batted vindicated the decision to hand him his first Test cap.

He batted solidly and confidently for his 31 not out from 110 balls, which is what England wanted from him in a match they need to avoid defeat in to ensure a series victory.

They put an opening batsman in at number six because they wanted somebody who could bat patiently and apply themselves on a pitch which is difficult to score runs on.

He got off the mark with a lovely cover drive and was helped by an encouraging partner at the other end, and the runs he and Matt Prior have added so far are very important in the context of this match.

It was also an excellent innings by Kevin Pietersen, who might not have relished batting on a pitch where the ball doesn't come on to the bat.

He grafted out there, showing patience and determination, and his hard work was rewarded with a very good innings of 73.

Pietersen did get out in a soft manner, as did Nick Compton and Jonathan Trott before him, but the most disappointing dismissal of the day was Ian Bell's.

It was like he blocked a catch to short extra cover, and it left you scratching your head and wondering why he did it.

That was a horrible way to be dismissed for such a fine player and I wonder if there are still gremlins there from the UAE, when Bell really struggled against Pakistan's spinners last winter.

He might not have wanted to be dictated to by the bowler, and was trying to be positive, but this was a pitch where you had to get your head down. It was not easy to force the pace.

Overall, it was India's day and they stuck to their plan superbly - it is not often you don't see any slips to the seam bowler, but that was the correct decision on this pitch. They made it very difficult for England and it is all set up for a big morning on the second day.

I think England might be happy if they get to 300 - but that is a long way off yet.

Listen to match highlights and Jonathan Agnew and Geoffrey Boycott's analysis of the day's play on the Test Match Special podcast.

We are using archive pictures for this Test because several photo agencies, including Getty Images, have been barred from the ground following a dispute with the Board of Control for Cricket in India, while other agencies have withdrawn their photographers in protest.

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