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Ben Duckett defends ‘embarrassing’ Joe Root dismissal: ‘It’s the same as edging to slip’

Joe Root reverse scoops the ball straight to slip
Joe Root reverse scooped the ball straight to slip - Philip Brown/Getty Images

Ben Duckett fiercely defended Joe Root after England’s batting lynchpin’s “embarrassing” shot sparked a collapse that left them staring down the barrel of defeat in the third Test.

India lead by 322, having lost just two second-innings wickets, at the end of the third day, which began with such optimism after Duckett’s hundred on Friday and the fact that the hosts will play the remainder of the game with 10 men after Ashwin returned to his hometown Chennai for a family medical emergency.

That optimism evaporated quickly when Root, England’s second-highest Test run-scorer of all-time, reverse-ramped Jasprit Bumrah straight to second slip. England lost their last eight wickets for 95 to hand India a first innings lead of 126.

Geoffrey Boycott, the great England opener, labelled the dismissal “inexplicable” in his exclusive audio recording for Telegraph Sport.

“It looks clever when it comes off,” Boycott said. “When it doesn’t, it’s embarrassing and you look a chump. What a wasted wicket by such a talented player.”

Michael Vaughan, the former England captain, agreed, tweeting: “Joe is far too good to gift India such a cheap wicket 20 mins into a crucial day when they are down to 10 players.” Another former England captain, Alastair Cook, said “tactically, it was the wrong time to play that shot”.

Duckett, who made 153, defended Root. The Yorkshireman has made a habit of playing the reverse scoop and has had success, but this was the second time he has been dismissed to it.

“I’d be interested to know if those people [criticising him] were against it when he was doing it to Pat Cummins and hitting him for six in the summer,” said Duckett. “I’ve no words really for it. It’s the same as me playing a reverse sweep and getting caught at point. Options are practised and that shot has been very successful for him over the past year so next time it may go over slip.

“In this team, we want to take the positive option and I get more frustrated when I get caught at silly point like the last game, playing a nothing shot. I’d much rather get out putting the bowling under pressure and getting caught on the fence at times – as long as it’s a shot that you play and have practised thousands and thousands of times.

“Rooty’s a freak and he does things a lot of us can’t do. In my eyes it is the same as playing a drive and being caught at second slip.

“I’m just gutted it didn’t go for four or six. I think he’s earned the right to do that. He has played that shot so well.”

Duckett insisted that England remain optimistic about their chances in the match.

“It was one of those days when I feel we have to give credit to India,” he said. “This morning they were very good and they didn’t make it easy to score. It felt like their plans were a lot better than last night and unfortunately we just kept on losing wickets at the wrong times. Then with the ball I didn’t think we bowled badly at all and Jaiswal has played another incredible innings there. He looks an amazing player. And it’s just one of those days. We’ll come back tomorrow and give it our best.

“The game’s not out of reach, not at all. Even sending in a nightwatchman shows they’re slightly wary of us. If we can get two or three blokes in on that pitch, scoring quickly, you never know what can happen.

Asked what England could chase, Duckett smiled: “The more the better. This team is all about doing special things and creating history. They can have as many as they want and we’ll go and get them.”

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