Joe Root did not get the chance to lay bat on ball on his one-day debut for England in the nine-run victory over India in Rajkot on Friday, but still did enough to catapult his name up the list of potential all-rounders with a credible display of bowling.
Root has been fast-tracked by England for his talents at the top of the order but enjoyed an unusual bow in the 50-over format, after he had been shunted down the order to No 7. India had made a rapid start in the run-chase after promoting their big hitters, and Root was given the ball to apply the brakes.
The 22-year-old was not required to take the crease as England posted 325 for 4 but then found himself called upon to perform a crucial job with the ball. Despite being only an irregular off-spinner for Yorkshire, he was chosen ahead of Samit Patel to help limit a dangerous opening stand by Gautam Gambhir and Ajinkya Rahane.
The experiment worked better than captain Alastair Cook could have imagined as his first spell of five overs cost just 17 runs, and Root ended up bowling nine for 51.
Root conceded that he has not played a match as a specialist bowler for more than a decade, but has been putting in plenty of hard work to get himself ready.
"That probably hasn't happened since I was 10 or 11 years old, playing my first men's cricket, but it was fantastic," he said. "I've been working hard on the bowling to give the captain as many options as possible out there.
"I need to make sure it is going to be a really big asset for me in the future and take any chances of having as many options as I can to give myself the best chance of selection."
Root has enjoyed a painless introduction to international cricket thus far. An unexpected Test debut in Nagpur in December saw him make an assured 73 in a series-clinching draw, and he then made his first T20 appearance in another England win just before Christmas. "I'm still 22 years old and I just want to play as much as possible and take the opportunity if I get it," he said.
Meanwhile, Roots's team-mate James Tredwell is relishing his moment in the sun after finishing with career-best figures of 4 for 44 in the series opener in Rajkot.
The 30-year-old off-spinner usually has to settle for a role as deputy to Graeme Swann, but with Swann among those rested this month he is enjoying a rare stint as the team's senior spinner.
"I have an opportunity here to play a few games and show what I can do and hopefully keep my hat in the ring," said Tredwell, who was handed the man of the match award.
Asked if the success of Swann and the slow left-armer Monty Panesar in the 2-1 Test victory had inspired him, Tredwell added: "Absolutely. You see them and you want to emulate them, but one-day cricket is completely different, a different set of skills and a different approach.
"The way I look at it is I have to keep improving, show what I can do in training and hopefully I can get a few games along the way."
Yesterday England touched down in Kochi, the venue for the second ODI of the series on Tuesday.
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