Yorkshire star Joe Root is relishing a return to home turf tomorrow for England’s ICC World Cup clash with Sri Lanka at Headingley, and he does so in red hot form.

England are bidding for their fifth win from six group matches.
Root has scored two centuries and two fifties in the tournament so far.

The Test captain is the glue that holds the finely-tuned England batting machine together, and it’s a selfless role he’s more than happy to fulfil.

While the likes of Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes often provide the fireworks, Root will invariably steadily amass runs and bind the batting line-up together.

Even as Eoin Morgan took the headlines with his scintillating knock of 148 off 71 balls – including an ODI world record 17 sixes – in the 150-run victory over Afghanistan at Old Trafford on Tuesday, Root was staying out of his way at the non-striker’s end, while making 88 from 82 himself.

The 28-year-old is almost flying under the radar at this World Cup – a remarkable feat for someone who has scored 367 runs and averages 91.75. But he understands the importance of what he does.

“One of the reasons Eoin scored so quickly against Afghanistan was because I gave him the strike so much,” explained Root.

“The reason I felt like I batted the whole innings and only ended on 88 was because I didn’t have much of the strike, which is exactly what you want in a situation like that.

“It can be hard sometimes – you look at the scoreboard and how someone is going and you think ‘I’ve got to get involved in this’ but you need to weigh it up and think what is best for the team.

“The guys you’re out there with have got to be comfortable with the way you’re playing and that it fits with the group.

“If you’re batting with someone and they’re under pressure because they feel you should be playing in a certain manner and you’re not – that’s not beneficial to the team.

“If you’re all on the same page and clear about how people will approach things, it will make life easier and you’re more likely to be consistent.

“That’s one of the reasons why we’ve been successful over the last couple of years because there’s a real understanding of how everyone should operate.”

England made their highest score at a World Cup, 397/6, before restricting Afghanistan to just 247 in reply to chalk up a fourth win in five matches at the tournament.

Their chances of reaching the knockout stages will be further enhanced if they can beat the struggling Sri Lankans, and Root is excited about the opportunity to play in Headingley’s first of four games at this World Cup.

“I’m looking forward to going up to Leeds and seeing the new stand full,” he added.

“It should be a great spectacle for the city and the county – to have the opportunity to play a World Cup game there personally is very special.

“Hopefully we can continue the good nick we’re in as a side and add another win to this run. But our form counts for nothing – you’ve got to go out there and start again.

“That’s the beauty of tournament cricket – you’re preparing slightly differently every game.

“It’s pleasing we’ve managed that well in this little period. It’s how well can we do it throughout the rest of the tournament now.”

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