Joe Root 'one of the best in the world against spin', says England teammate Stuart Broad
Joe Root's world-class batting against spin drew high praise from both teams as he kept England bang in contention in the second Test against Pakistan.
Team-mate Stuart Broad rates Root as one of the best players of spin he has seen for England, and Pakistan bowling coach Mushtaq Ahmed agrees the Yorkshireman is "right up there".
Root finished unbeaten on 76, in a stumps total of 182 for three, after he and his captain Alastair Cook (65) had shared a century stand to ensure a recovery from 14 for two in reply to 378 all out on day two in Dubai.
With power to add, after combating the much-vaunted leg-spin of Yasir Shah and slow left-armer Zulfiqar Babar, Root's annual Test runs tally of 1195 is already second only to Cook's - a statistic not lost on Broad.
It is not just that aggregate, but an assurance at the crease, which means Broad is able to breathe easy watching Root - because he knows there is a strong probability he will not be having to bowl again any time soon.
"He's been in great form in 2015 - I saw Cookie and Joe's stats and they were quite similar - and he's as good a player of spin as any Englishmen I've played with," said Broad.
"He's very natural against the spin. He doesn't look panicked or rushed.
"The way he judges length is brilliant.
"From a bowler's point of view, you can feel quite relaxed when he's out there batting."
Cook had a little luck on his side in the much-needed third-wicket stand of 113 - but not so Root, who closed out the day in an unbroken partnership of 55 with Jonny Bairstow.
"He doesn't look like he's 'panic-sweeping' and dancing (down the wicket), because he's not sure what to do," said Broad, comparing that confidence favourably with England's uncertainty during their last series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.
England lost 3-0 back in early 2012, the tour immediately preceding Root's debut.
"Last time we were here, it was like tossing a coin to see which shot we would play," added Broad.
"I think Joe has brought a lot of calmness to the batting unit ... that the young guys can feed off.
"He's got an old head on young shoulders.
"Even before he played a Test match in India, [former coach Andy] Flower wanted him in the side straight away.
"Just on first viewing of him, he said 'this bloke is that good'."
Broad is banking on more of the same.
"He's been crucial to us winning series in the past year - and tomorrow, we hope, will be his day.
"If he can be the guy we bat around, and we have a few guys who make half-centuries, we should make 400-plus.
"If we do that, we put Pakistan under a lot of pressure."
Mushtaq agreed with England opener Moeen Ali's recent assessment that Root is one of the best players of spin in the world.
"I think he's right up there," he said.
"He's got great footwork. When people use front and back foot equally well, it's quite difficult margin of error for the spinners against them."
He was not so impressed with Pakistan's batsmen, after they lost their last six wickets in the morning session despite 83 from Asad Shafiq.
"We didn't bat well," added Mushtaq.
"The last five or six players didn't play the situation very smartly.
"It's our gameplan to play positive cricket. But sometimes you have to be positive with smartness, choose the right ball.
"(But) tomorrow is a key session, and if we get a couple of quick wickets it will be a different ball game."
Broad is optimistic it will be England who take control in pursuit of a possible 1-0 lead, with one match left to play.
"You always say it, but the next hour is the most important," he said.
"Tomorrow morning is probably the biggest hour in the game - because if we can get up to that second new ball, perhaps only losing one wicket, we've a good chance to pass Pakistan.
"If we can get 400 plus on a deteriorating wicket, we'll be in the box seat.
"If we apply pressure through our whole innings, we are due a cluster of wickets ... one of those that wins you the game."