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Root driven by Ashes hurt

Joe Root spoke to us moments after scoring an unbeaten century on day one at Lord's

By Matt Somerford

Joe Root admitted that being dropped for the final Test of the winter's Ashes series had been a driving factor as he posted a "very special" century on the opening day of the Investec series against Sri Lanka at Lord's.

Root reached his first Test century in almost a year in the penultimate over of the day as England closed on 334 for five.

The Yorkshireman had to first pull his side from the dangers of 120 for four, after Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews opted to make first use of a green-tinged Lord's pitch.

Root began the revival in a 89-run stand with Moeen Ali - one of three England debutants - before he and Matt Prior stole the day away with an unbroken 135-run alliance.

Like Root, Prior was overlooked at the end of the Ashes winter and together they ensured new Head Coach Peter Moores' first day in charge of the Test team was a profitable one.

Root especially had reason to reflect fondly as he reached his third Test century and first since his career-best 180 against Australia on this same ground 11 months ago.

"It was obviously very special," Root told ecb.co.uk.

"It's been a tough winter for us as a side and for me personally to get left out of the last Test match makes you want to prove a point and show everyone that I can hopefully go on and play a lot of cricket for England.

"It's a very pleasing thing to score a hundred at Lord's and hopefully it can be the start of a successful summer."

Joe Root was ecstatic as he celebrated a "very special" century on the opening day of the Investec Test series against Sri Lanka at Lord's

Root celebrated in animated style and to a backdrop of chants of 'Root' from the Lord's crowd.

"Those moments you don't forget in a hurry," he said. "It makes you hungry to do it more often."

Root admitted to some nerves as he closed in on his century, but believes Prior's presence was crucial as they continued to work the tourists' fielders - a feature of their bristling stand - right until the end of the day.

"(I had) slight nerves. You want to get it (the century) out of the way if you can, but you don't want to get out as well.

"Me and Matt just knew if we ran well and kept playing the way we were then as a team we'd be in a good position by the close. Fortunately that means I've got a hundred as well."

Root paid credit to Moeen, who hit 48 on his debut, for helping kick-start the recovery as the sun shone brightest in the afternoon session.

"He played extremely well on debut," he said.

"That shows how much of a fine player he is and how exciting it is to see him start so well and hopefully kick on."

He added: "Matty as well to come in after a tough winter and play the way he did was testament to his character as well.

"He's a fine player, we've seen that over the years, and it meant a lot to him as well."

Matt Prior will begin tomorrow in sight of a hundred of his own, but most significantly looking to help build a formidable first-innings total

England gave debuts to Moeen, Sam Robson and Chris Jordan while Liam Plunkett was recalled to Test ranks after seven years.

Robson managed just one as he and skipper Alastair Cook exited inside the opening half hour, with Gary Ballance following before lunch.

Ian Bell hit an elegant 56, but when he was out lbw on review to Shaminda Eranga, England needed Root's diligence.

While he was forced to grit his teeth early the right-hander slowly started to find his tempo, helped by the urgency of the running with Prior, and is determined to push on tomorrow.

"We're in a really strong position," he said.

"The challenge now is to kick on from here and me and Matty, especially in that first hour, take control of the game and make it hard for the Sri Lankans to get back into it."

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