England captain Joe Root has no weaknesses and is the best batsman in the world at the moment, says Dinesh Karthik.
Root has risen to top spot in the ICC Test batting rankings for the first time since 2015 after scoring six centuries in 2021, including three in as many games against India this summer.
The 30-year-old – whose side head into Thursday’s fourth Test against Virat Kohli’s men level at 1-1 after an innings victory in the third game at Leeds – has notched 1,398 runs in total this calendar year.
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Karthik – who commentated for Sky Sports for the first three Tests before heading to the UAE to prepare for the IPL with Kolkata Knight Riders – said: “If you look at it tactically, there are not many errors Root is making.
“Throughout this series, good white-ball batters – Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Jonny Bairstow – have been batting with a strike rate of 50, max 55. Root has batted at 70, 75.
“He is at the peak of his batting prowess and there is no technical vulnerability per se. There may be certain phases where he could have played better but there are no areas where you can say ‘bowl there at him.’
“He may get a great ball and a couple of low scores but in terms of saying, ‘he is technically weak in that area’, I don’t think there is much with Root.
“He is the best batsman in the world in terms of the way he is batting right now – he doesn’t even leave many balls.
“England is probably the toughest place to bat and a lot of players focus on leaving the ball but he is playing at most of the balls others are leaving. It shows he is confident, knows his scoring areas and sticks to it.
“He is all all-round player – he plays spin well as we saw in the winter in Sri Lanka and India. And the pace at which he plays? Phenomenal.”
Root is averaging 126.75 in the India series, having carded scores of 64, 109, 180 not out, 33 and 121 across his five innings at Trent Bridge, Lord’s and Emerald Headingley.
India captain Kohli, in contrast, is averaging 24.80 from the same number of knocks, with his half-century in the second innings in Leeds the only time he has passed fifty.
Former India batsman Karthik thinks Kohli has shown signs of nervousness but feels his 55 last time out could be a turning point for the 32-year-old, who has slipped to sixth in the ICC Test batting standings.
“He is arguably one of the greatest players ever to play the sport,” Karthik said of Kohli. “I think he has had issues where he has been nervous, anxious and wants to score runs as the leader of the pack.
“Looking back at his dismissals, he will know he has gotten out, it’s not been the bowlers getting him out.
“Yes, [James] Anderson has bowled a couple of great deliveries at him but he will know he has probably made a couple of mistakes.
“I don’t think it’s technical, more that anxiousness and wanting to get to the ball, but in his last innings he got a fifty and was looking good. He fought it out and I liked what I saw. That’s a good sign for Indian cricket.”
England swept to victory inside four days in the third Test, having crumbled to defeat on day five of the second, at Lord’s.
Karthik added: “England might have a little bit of momentum but not complete momentum.
“Going into the third Test, everybody believed India would be all over England and it was going to be an easy win. Everything then changed the first morning when Jimmy Anderson took the ball [and India were bowled out for 78].
“England are playing well but India can do exactly what England did to them in the third Test. India have always bounced back well, so I think they will come out all guns blazing [at The Kia Oval].
“It has been a riveting, enthralling series. At the start I think everybody thought India would blow England away because of the injuries, Ben Stokes not being there and India having come off some good Test cricket. But England are a tough team to beat at home and the record says so.
“I think the Oval Test has all the qualities to be a draw and if it is a draw it would be a very interesting last Test [at Emirates Old Trafford].”
Watch the fourth Test between England and India, from The Kia Oval, live on Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Main Event from 10am on Thursday.
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