Joe Root backing England to learn lessons and break Pakistan's 'home' record

Joe Root
Joe Root

Joe Root plans to help England succeed where all others have so far failed - and is confident he could be on to a winner, as long as the tourists heed the "harsh lessons" they have already encountered.

Pakistan are unbeaten 'at home' in the United Arab Emirates since relocating their Test series there five years ago.

Four of England's senior players on the current tour, including captain Alastair Cook, know to their cost how difficult it is for visitors to the desert - having lost 3-0 on their only previous expedition in early 2012.

Root was not on board then, his debut coming later that year in India.

But the 24-year-old vice-captain saw enough at first hand in two warm-up matches against Pakistan over the past week to be well aware there are pitfalls in the sand.

As England grapple with a clutch of intertwined selection issues before the first Test in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, Root's focus is already on events in the middle.

He concluded, after four England wickets fell for nine runs early on the final afternoon of the second practice match, that a fine balance must be struck here between caution and adventure.

Root and Cook banked 50s at the first time of asking against Pakistan A, and therefore sat out the second two-day fixture.

But both had keen and vested interest from close quarters in the pavilion.

Root said: "No one's won here against Pakistan - that'd be really pleasing for me to be part of a team who have come into these conditions and done what no other side has done before."

He is forewarned, though, by events in Sharjah.

"We definitely learned a lot from these two encounters with a strong Pakistan A side," he continued.

"There's some harsh lessons that'll have to be learned, and they'll stand us in good stead for that first (Test) match."

The sudden clatter of wickets, after Ian Bell and James Taylor both retired, was informative for Root.

"It just shows how hard it can be starting an innings on these surfaces, in these conditions," he said.

"That obviously made a big impact for the rest of the day."

England must ensure such collapses do not recur, as they did in 2012.

"They're the sort of things, if we do lose a couple of wickets quickly, that can happen," added Root.

"We're going to have to be a little bit sharper when it comes to the Test matches."

He is adamant they will be and said: "We've proved over the last six months we can do things people don't think we can.

"We're definitely confident within the dressing room. We've done all the work in preparation for this series."

Root acknowledges a tough mission but a challenge he insists is within England's capabilities.

"We're very realistic," he said.

"We know it's going to be really tough and we're going to have to play extremely well to beat them.

"But we're definitely capable of doing that if we play at our best."

It is not yet clear who will be taking the field in several key positions.

All indications are that Moeen Ali will be the captain's next opening partner, rather than the uncapped Alex Hales, and the all-rounder's burden will be heavy as the established spinner alongside debutant Adil Rashid.

The middle-order positions, even that of wicketkeeper Jos Buttler, are less settled.

Buttler has been badly out of form with the bat, and needed two innings in a contrived contest against Pakistan A to muster 39 runs.

Even so, it was a surprise to hear coach Trevor Bayliss offer no guarantee afterwards that Buttler will be picked ahead of Jonny Bairstow.

Root, however, gave the incumbent wicketkeeper a ringing endorsement - identifiying him as one of the driving forces of England's future.

"I think that (innings) will give him a huge amount of confidence," said the Yorkshireman.

"I'm sure he'll be very pleased with the way he played, and can take that forward into the Test match."

Asked if Buttler's lack of recent runs might be preying on his mind, Root said: "I'd like to think not.

"Jos has been a fantastic player for English cricket over the last couple of years, and he's been making this position his own.

"We hope that can continue for a long time.

"You're only one score away, and I really believe he's one of the players that can help drive this England team forward to some really great things."