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Half-century from debutant Root justifies the hype fourth test

Joe Root proved many sound judges right yesterday with a composed half-century on his Test debut for England.

The 21-year-old conquered the inevitable nerves in Nagpur and appeared in control throughout his innings of 73.

Root needed to dig in, on a low and slow pitch, to joint top-score alongside Kevin Pietersen in England's 330 all out as they seek to close out a series victory.

After James Anderson took three for 24 as India stumbled to 87 for four by stumps on day two of this final Test, Root has obvious prospects of starting his international career at the very top as part of the first England team to win a series here since well before he was born.

England's new No.6 began his maiden innings on Thursday, but continued past his first 50 yesterday morning as he and Matt Prior (57) took their stand into three figures.

There were no friends and family in attendance, but many made it clear with Twitter messages – and photos posted from his days as an England hopeful – that they were willing Root on throughout.

He has long been the subject of rave reviews from Perfor-mance Programme coach and former England batsman Graham Thorpe, too, but once here only he could justify the hype.

"It would be wrong to say there's no nerves when you're waiting to bat in Test cricket for the first time," said Root, "but I've got a great team around me. Once I got in the middle, I was quite relaxed. I'm obviously delighted to get the opportunity, and then to score a few runs is a really good feeling."

Root's first cap came as a surprise to many, including him, when he was picked in place of Samit Patel, who had batted at No.6 in the first three Tests. Conditions meant there would be no quick path to success once out in the middle, either.

"[I knew I had to] just really work hard and grind it out, because the guys who'd gone in before said it was tough. I had to get my bearings, and stay patient.You just try to adapt to the conditions and situation, and make the most of what you've got."

The signs are Root might have helped put England in control. "We're in a pretty good position now. So I hope we can kick on and really do some damage," he added.

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