Root delighted as carefully considered gameplan pays off

Joe Root managed just three hours of sleep coming into the final day of the second Test in Kandy. With England three wickets away from victory and Sri Lanka needing 75 runs, his side were favourites. But mulling over the number of scenarios that could play out led to a restless night’s sleep.
However, upon arriving at the Pallekele International Stadium, Root was zen. “As soon as I got to the ground, I felt very calm.” Within 52 balls, England had secured a 57-run win, a 2-0 scoreline and a series win with one Test to play.
The momentousness of this series should not be lost.
This was England’s first win in Sri Lanka since 2001, and first in Asia since their 2012 victory over India in Alastair Cook’s first series in charge. You have to go back to South Africa at the start of 2016 for this side’s last success away from home.
More importantly, this was Root’s first overseas victory since taking on the role in February of last year. The Ashes was a harrowing experience for all involved, which was followed by a series defeat to New Zealand. But Root has marshalled wins over India – the number one ranked team in the world – and away to Sri Lanka in successive series.
Root could not pick a favourite of the two but was aware of the magnitude of the fresher win.
“It’s very special,” he said. “The guys have worked extremely hard. We’ve planned very well for it. We said we were going to play in a certain manner and we’ve backed that up completely in the two games. And that’s probably the most pleasing thing. We’ve stuck to our guns.”
Those guns were England’s approach to batting which saw them attack Sri Lanka’s spinners from ball one in the first Test. While a touch risky, it has been vindicated in the results.
The sweep shot was the weapon of choice, but it was its application throughout that set England apart. There was no backward step. And while Test cricket does require certain shades of grey, Root and the management realised this approach fell in line with he players available.
“You look at the make-up of squad. It fits very well with the make-up of individuals. In this part of the world, on surfaces which spin dramatically, it can be very difficult to trust your defence.
“We saw that as an opportunity to play in that manner in these conditions. It might be different in other parts of world, but the more we can be adaptable, the more we can play situation and read what is happening out in the middle, the more consistent we will become. And hopefully the better we’ll travel around the world.”