England skipper Root regains top spot in ICC Test batting rankings

By Sports Desk September 01, 2021

England captain Joe Root has regained top spot in the ICC men's Test batting rankings following his impressive displays in the ongoing series with India.

The 30-year-old has recorded centuries in all three Tests, which is tied at 1-1 ahead of the fourth match at The Oval this week, aggregating 507 runs at an average of 126.75.

Root was fifth on the list at the start of the series but his form throughout 2021 has seen him overtake Virat Kohli, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith and previous number one Kane Williamson to lead the way for the first time since December 2015.

Kohli has slipped out of the top five, with Rohit Sharma overtaking his team-mate with his highest ever position.

The 916 ranking points accrued by Root is one below his career-best aggregate from August 2015 and has been bettered by only four other England batsmen – Len Hutton, Jack Hobbs, Peter May and Denis Compton

"Obviously it's a nice thing to hear," Root said. "I've got to keep trying to score in this series and get us over the line.

"As nice as it is, there is still so much hard work to do. Our focus does not change. I'm obviously proud to have achieved this and I'd like to stay there now by playing like I am.

"Hopefully the form of my life is still to come, but I do feel very good at the minute. I've got to stay focused now."

In bowling terms, Root's England team-mate James Anderson has moved back up to number five in a list led by Australia's Pat Cummins.

England levelled their five-match series with India thanks to an innings victory in the third Test at Headingley last week.

All-rounder Moeen Ali has been confirmed as England's vice-captain for the fourth Test after Jos Buttler was given a paternity break ahead of the arrival of his second child.
 

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    Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have paid tribute to the "charismatic" Jo-Wilfried Tsonga after the 37-year-old brought his 18-year professional career to a close.

    Tsonga, who reached a career-high ranking of world number five in 2012, confirmed in April that he would retire at the culmination of his French Open campaign.

    That duly came in the first round on Tuesday as he bowed out to world number eight Casper Ruud 6-7 (6-8) 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 7-6 (7-0).

    He retires having won, according to Opta, 464 Tour-level matches since September 2004.

    Tsonga is one of just three players, along with Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro, to have beaten Nadal, Federer and Djokovic while they were ranked world number one.

    He is also one of three players, alongside Stan Wawrinka and Tomas Berdych, who have defeated Nadal, Federer and Djokovic at grand slams.

    A video tribute was played on court after his defeat to Ruud, which featured messages from the sport's most iconic players.

    Federer said: "I wanted to congratulate you on an amazing career and it was a pleasure to share the court with and play against you, even to lose against you!

    "We had some great battles. Enjoy the moment in Paris with all your friends and family, in front of all your adoring spectators."

    Djokovic added: "Jo is one of the most charismatic tennis players ever to play the game. I was very happy to share the court with him many times.

    "We get along well and he's a really nice guy. He brought a lot of positive attention and popularity to our sport not just because of his dynamic game style, but also his charisma and his personality, so it's a big loss for professional men's tennis to have him retire.

    "I wish him all the best, and he definitely should be happy about his career and his achievements. He's made his mark and his legacy in our sport."

    Nadal said: "He is very charismatic. I've known him since we were kids; he is a good guy and I think he brings a lot of positive things to our sport so I'm sad to see him going but we are getting old so it's going to happen for everyone."

    Speaking at a media conference after his defeat, Tsonga said he would now spend some time relaxing before focusing on the development of his tennis academy.

    He said he will miss the adrenaline of playing on court, as well as how he was able to express himself completely when competing.

    "It's adrenaline, to step onto a big court like this one," he said. "It's adrenaline you can feel when you have 15,000 people shouting out your name, supporting you on the court.

    "This is what I'm going to miss – the contact with the crowd. And with those who have been supporting me for all these years.

    "You know, in real life, it's sometimes difficult to be intense. You don't want to shock, you don't want to be too rude, you don't want to hurt somebody.

    "You always try to act to be nice, to be sociable. But, you know, on the court, you can express your fever. You can express everything about you, and it's sometimes freeing."

  • Miller sends Titans to IPL final with stunning effort against Royals Miller sends Titans to IPL final with stunning effort against Royals

    A sensational innings of 68 from David Miller took Gujarat Titans to the IPL final after they beat Rajasthan Royals by seven wickets in Tuesday's qualifier.

    This was just the second meeting between the Titans and the Royals in the Indian Premier League, with Gujarat also winning by 37 runs last month.

    Jos Buttler had blasted 89 to help the Royals set a target of 189 in Kolkata, but despite an early setback, the Titans built their reply well before fireworks from Miller finished it off.

    Yashasvi Jaiswal fell for just three early in the Royals' innings, but Buttler and captain Sanju Samson put on a partnership of 68 to recover, with Samson hitting 47 off just 26 balls.

    Buttler was unusually cautious until putting his foot down later in the innings, particularly once Devdutt Padikkal (28) had departed, with the England international hitting two late sixes to add to his 12 fours, before being run out in the final over.

    The Titans lost Wriddhiman Saha for a second ball duck off the bowling of Trent Boult (1-38), but their batting was steady from there, with Shubman Gill and Matthew Wade both adding 35 each, before Hardik Pandya and Miller came to the crease.

    Pandya played a captain's innings of 40 from 27 balls, but it was Miller who claimed the highlights, especially near the end of the chase as the nerves ratcheted up.

    Needing 16 off the last over, Miller only took three balls to do the job as he smashed three sixes to send the Titans to the final in style.

    The Royals have now played 10 games at Eden Gardens in the IPL, losing eight. Only at their home stadium in Jaipur (15) and at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai (nine) have they lost more.

    They will now have to play the winner of Wednesday's eliminator between Lucknow Super Giants and Royal Challengers Bangalore to make it to the final.

    Killer Miller

    Although they had plenty of wickets in hand, it did look at one stage like Gujarat had given themselves a bit too much to do, until Miller stepped up.

    The South African took just 38 balls to knock 68 in Kolkata, with three fours and five sixes.

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    It was hardly a great day in the field for the Titans, except for Rashid Khan, who had an economy of 3.75 (15 runs), with none of the other three bowlers who bowled four overs having less than 10.75 (43 runs).

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  • French Open: Tsonga wraps up 18-year career, finishing on 464 Tour-level wins French Open: Tsonga wraps up 18-year career, finishing on 464 Tour-level wins

    Jo-Wilfried Tsonga brought his 18-year professional career to a close on Tuesday, after his first-round loss to Casper Ruud at the French Open.

    Tsonga, who reached a high ranking of world number five, confirmed in April that he would retire at the culmination of his French Open campaign.

    For the 37-year-old, that was short-lived, as he bowed out to world number eight Ruud.

    Tsonga gave it his all, taking the lead and forcing a tie-break in three of the four sets, but Ruud had too much and prevailed 6-7 (6-8) 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 7-6 (7-0).

    That confirmed the end of Tsonga's long career. He bows out having won, according to Opta, 464 Tour-level matches since September 2004.

    Tsonga is one of just three players, along with Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro, to have beaten Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic while they were ranked world number one.

    He is also one of three players (also Stan Wawrinka and Tomas Berdych) who have defeated Nadal, Federer and Djokovic at grand slams.

    Tsonga also became the first player since Guillermo Canas in 2002 to defeat four straight top-10 players at a Masters 1000 tournament when he triumphed in Toronto in 2014.

    "It's tough for me and all the players that you're stopping. You've been an inspiration to me and so many of the other players, so thank you for the memories," Ruud told Tsonga after the match.

    "[I have] so many good memories watching Jo on TV. He's such a great guy [and] nice person on and off the court. He's a good example of what a player should be."

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