Joe Root’s world-class batsmanship drew high praise from both teams as he kept England bang in contention in the second Test against Pakistan.
Team-mate Stuart Broad rates Root as one of the best players of spin he has seen for England, and Pakistan bowling coach Mushtaq Ahmed agrees the Yorkshireman is “right up there”.
Root finished unbeaten on 76, in a stumps total of 182-3, after he and his captain Alastair Cook (65) had shared a century stand to ensure a recovery from 14-2 in reply to 378 all out on day two in Dubai.
With power to add, after combating the much-vaunted leg-spin of Yasir Shah and slow left-armer Zulfiqar Babar, Root’s annual Test runs tally of 1195 is already second only to Cook’s – a statistic not lost on Broad.
“He’s been in great form in 2015 – I saw Cookie and Joe’s stats and they were quite similar – and he’s as good a player of spin as any Englishmen I’ve played with,” said Broad.
“He’s very natural against the spin. He doesn’t look panicked or rushed. The way he judges length is brilliant.
“From a bowler’s point of view, you can feel quite relaxed when he’s out there batting.”
England lost 3-0 back in early 2012, the tour immediately preceding Root’s debut.
“Last time we were here, it was like tossing a coin to see which shot we would play,” added Broad.
“I think Joe has brought a lot of calmness to the batting unit ... that the young guys can feed off.
“He’s got an old head on young shoulders.”
Broad is banking on more of the same today.
“He’s been crucial to us winning series in the past year - and tomorrow, we hope, will be his day.
“If he can be the guy we bat around, and we have a few guys who make half-centuries, we should make 400-plus.
“If we do that, we put Pakistan under a lot of pressure,” he added.
Mushtaq agreed with England opener Moeen Ali’s recent assessment that Root is one of the best players of spin in the world.
“I think he’s right up there,” he said.
“He’s got great footwork. When people use front and back foot equally well, it’s quite difficult margin of error for the spinners against them.”