Chasing the left-armer catches up with Joe Root again

Joe Root was extracted by Mohammad Amir Getty Images

Joe Root's dismissal on the second day at Headingley had a familiar ring to it. Well set, not especially troubled by any kind of bowling whether it was right-arm pace, left-arm pace or legspin, batting at a healthy enough pace and then boom, he's gone.

He was out for 45 so, if we're being pedantic, it wasn't a continuation of his trend of not turning fifties into hundreds. In any case, that's not emphatically a problem if he's consistently scoring enough fifties (he averages over 52 and what, for example, if he was converting to hundreds but making lower scores in between?).

But it's not that that was interesting as much as it was the manner of his dismissal - edging behind, this time to the wicketkeeper, off a left-arm pace bowler.

From Hawkeye, it's clear what line Mohammad Amir had been trying to target - outside off-stump, wider and wider. Only two balls were straight. And according to ESPNcricinfo data of the 28 balls he bowled to Root, 23 were on a good length or full and the one that got him was the former.

In other words, from over the wicket (so going across Root) make him chase and try and get him to drive. The ball that got him did both, even though, according to Cricviz, it basically did not swing or seam but was merely straight and wide.

And it is that that seems familiar: Root, wanting to get bat on ball, chasing and driving and getting dismissed. Pakistani fans might recall a trio of dismissals of this basic pattern: Rahat Ali twice and Wahab Riaz once in the three-Test series in the UAE in 2015-16, Root caught behind cutting, driving, fishing outside off. Root was out chasing and driving at Lord's too, though that was off Hasan Ali.

Root's been dismissed by left-arm pacemen 23 times in his Test career so far, compared to 56 by right-arm pacemen. Since his debut only Alastair Cook has been dismissed more times by that type of bowler.

Going through ESPNcricinfo's ball-by-ball records, commentary would suggest that 14 of the dismissals have been similar in outline to the one today - in some way chasing balls outside his off-stump.

Does that translate to a weakness in his game? As with the conversion, it's not as clear-cut. He averages 42.43 against left-arm fast bowlers, as opposed to 48.42 against right-arm fast bowlers (and a reminder again that his overall Test average is still over 52). It is a dip, but it isn't a poor enough average to suggest that he struggles against them.

The high number of dismissals could also simply be a function of Root facing them more - he has faced left-arm pace in as many as 56 innings. He has faced plenty of the likes of Trent Boult, Neil Wagner, the Mitchells Starc and Johnson, Wahab Riaz, Rahat Ali and Amir. And despite coming across Starc, Boult and Wagner in England's horror winter in Australia and New Zealand, and falling four times to left-arm pacemen, he fell chasing outside off only once, to Wagner in Christchurch.

The telling statistic could be this one, however, from Cricviz. When Root plays off the front foot against left-arm pace, as he did against Amir today, he averages 30.28. Off the back foot against the same kind of bowler he averages double - 61.50; Root punching, in other words, rather than Root driving against left-arm pace seems the more productive option.