Pietersen impressed by Root’s early Test showing in Nagpur

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Kevin Pietersen was full of praise for Joe Root after the Yorkshire batsman ground out a patient innings on his England Test debut.

The 21-year-old player was due to resume this morning on 31 not out after sharing in an unbroken 60-run partnership for the sixth wicket with Matt Prior on day one of the fourth Test.

England reached stumps against India yesterday on 199-5.

With the pitch proving particularly slow, most batsmen struggled, although Pietersen produced a fine innings of 73 to give the tourists hope of posting a decent first innings total.

England lead the Test series 2-1, with this the last of four matches, but they found batting tough work on a low, slow track.

Root, making his international debut and batting at No 6, helped to steady the ship along with Prior after some early success for the hosts.

Pietersen, for one, was impressed with the 21-year-old.

“Joe was brilliant. He’s his own man, he played some lovely cricket shots, he’s got a good head on his shoulders,” Pietersen said after the close of play. “Never judge anybody after a couple of hours of batting for England, but he’s shown signs of what could be a very good Test career.

“He can play us an incredible knock on day two if he can stick around and bat for the first two sessions.”

Pietersen admits the nature of the pitch makes it hard to predict how the Test will develop.

“We’re in an okay position at 200-5 (sic) but my guess is as good as anybody’s as to what that wicket’s going to do.

“I don’t know what the wicket’s going to do, but goodness it’s slow. The key (yesterday) was to try to bat for as long as possible because I don’t think that wicket’s getting better.”

England fast bowlers Stuart Broad and Steven Finn are both to return home early from the tour of India because of their respective injuries.

Both the seamers had scans two days ago, Broad on his left heel and Finn his lower back, and the results ruled them out of the final Test which began in Nagpur yesterday.

Twenty20 captain Broad will also miss two matches against India in the shortest international format next week, when Eoin Morgan will instead lead the team.

The England and Wales Cricket Board yesterday afternoon confirmed Broad and Finn’s anticipated departures, and announced uncapped Middlesex seamer James Harris is to be added to the Twenty20 squad.

“Stuart Broad has been ruled out of the upcoming two-match Twenty20 series against India with a bruised left heel,” an ECB statement read.

“Broad will return to the UK immediately to begin a period of rest and rehabilitation.”

Broad is due to return to India next month, for the final two matches of a one-day international series.

Twenty-two-year-old Harris is currently in India with the England Performance Programme squad in Pune.

Finn was already to be rested for next week’s Twenty20s, but it is hoped he will still be available for the ODI series despite the disc strain in his back.

Moxon on Root: Page 25.