England will come back stronger after their crushing Test defeat to India inside two days, captain Joe Root said Thursday while admitting that the visitors’ team selection was wrong on a “very challenging” pitch.
“We will try and make sure that we are better for it... A week like this doesn’t define us as a team. We know what we are capable of doing,” Root said after the drubbing left the tourists trailing 2-1 in the series.
“We will come back and we will use the hurt from this week as motivation going into that last game... We will come back stronger for it,” he said in the post-match presentation in Ahmedabad.
“We can’t have any scars going into this last game... You don’t become a bad team overnight,” Root told a later news conference.
“And if we are going to get better then we have got to understand that there is going to be the odd bump in the road. We are not always going to be perfect. But it’s how we respond and that’s the most important thing, that we go into next week with a very good attitude,” he said.
England, level at 1-1 in the series before the third Test, won the toss and were 74 for 2 before slumping to a 112 all out in the first innings.
India too suffered a collapse and were bundled out for 145 before knocking over England for 81 in the second innings and chasing down the 49 to win without loss.
“We got ourselves in a pretty good position (in the first innings) and we just didn’t capitalise on it,” Root said.
Root also conceded that England had made selection mistakes in not picking Dom Bess alongside fellow spinner Jack Leach, choosing instead three quicks in James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Jofra Archer as well as all-rounder Ben Stokes.
But it was the spinners on both teams – including part-timer Root who took five for eight in India’s first innings – who claimed almost all the wickets and bowled the majority of the overs.
However, Root said that conditions before the inaugural game – a day-night match – in the world’s biggest cricket stadium had appeared to suit England’s fearsome stable of fast bowlers.
“We thought the wicket was going to hold together a bit better than it did, and throughout the whole practice days it seamed around, it swung prodigiously and seam looked a real threatening option,” Root said.
“(It is) easier in hindsight to say otherwise and select a different team but we wanted to give our seamers, which we feel is a big strength of ours, a chance to exploit those conditions,” he said.
‘Fit for purpose’
Amid criticism from commentators about the surface, Root said that the surface was “very challenging, very difficult” and that it was up to the International Cricket Council, not the players, to decide whether it was “fit for purpose”.
“I am sure that off the back of this, things will get looked at (by the ICC)…. It has certainly been a challenging surface, a challenging two surfaces the last two games,” he said.
“It’s a real shame, it’s a fantastic stadium, there are 60,000 people come to watch a brilliant iconic Test match and I feel for them. They have come to watch Virat Kohli face Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad or Jack Leach, and watch Ashwin against our top batters like Ben Stokes. I almost feel like they have been robbed, (that) instead they have had to watch me get wickets, which shouldn’t be the case.”
But he added: “Let’s not hide away from the fact that we have been outplayed here. On this surface, we have still been outplayed and we have to accept that.”
India’s captain Virat Kohli though defended the wicket.
“I don’t think the quality of batting was up to standards,” Kohli said. “It was just the odd ball turning and it was a good wicket to bat in the first innings.”
India opener Rohit Sharma agreed.
“The pitch had nothing as such. No demons,” he said. “It was a nice pitch to bat on. Once you’re in you can score, as you saw (in the second innings).”