Southampton: The hard-fought five-match series against India shows that Test cricket is still alive and kicking, said skipper Joe Root after England secured a 60-run win in the fourth rubber to take a series-clinching 3-1 lead.
“I think it’s a really good sign for Test cricket. It shows that for me Test cricket is still alive and kicking – very much at the pinnacle of the sport,” Root said.
“Credit to India – they’ve played some really fine cricket throughout, not just this game but the whole series. It must have been great viewing for people at home to see the way that especially the first game and this one, how tight they’ve been, how it swung both ways.”
Root said he was confident of a win with so many bowling options at his disposal as England’s potent attack dismissed world No 1 India for 273 and 184 in the two innings to secure the win.
“I felt like I had huge amounts of options and having points of difference in attack. In this game, having the ball spinning both ways, having a left-arm angle and three fantastic seam bowlers that all do very different things,” he said.
“I felt I always had, from a captain’s view, something different to turn to which on a surface like that a really important thing. Some might say overkill with options, but for me, it felt like a really good balance against that team on that surface.”
The England skipper said his side was confident about the 245-run target.
“When I was batting on it, I thought 190 would have been a good score. But the fact we managed to get up and beyond 230-240 was a fantastic effort, and proved to be a really difficult chase,” Root said.
“I know there was a lot talked about that 275 being what looked to be a difficult chase, but I was fairly confident that if we bowled to our potential like we did today, then we’d have enough in the bank to get across the line.”
Heaping praise on his batsmen, Root said it was a challenge to stay calm in the trying conditions here.
“I’m really pleased how it’s all turned out. We always knew there was going to be a partnership at some stage. The biggest challenge for us was if we could stay calm and collected and trust that if we stuck to what we wanted to do for long periods of time the wicket would do the rest for us,” he said.
“I thought as a whole group we performed exceptionally well and managed to do that. That’s testament to the skill levels and the attitude of the team. It’s really pleasing that, under that sort of pressure, we’ve managed to come good.”
While India collapsed twice, England also was reduced to 86-6 in the first innings. Root accepted that conditions have been tough for batsmen throughout the series.
“It’s been the same for both sides, hasn’t it, very difficult for both top orders? It’s just the way the wickets have been. There’s been some fine bowling on both teams – the two-seam attacks are very high-class. Of course, you’re always looking to get better and at areas, you want to improve,” he said.
“We want to make sure we’re starting well with the bat, and that’s going to continue to be a big focus for us as a team. But you’ve also got to be realistic about the conditions we’ve been playing in.”
Moeen Ali haunted the Indian batsmen again, like he did here in 2014, and returned a match-winning haul of nine wickets for 134 runs. He took 4-71 in the second innings as India lost their last seven wickets for 61 runs and Root was effusive in his praise for the off-spinner.
“He’s been brilliant. Sometimes, having a bit of time away from the game can be a really good thing, and he’s obviously performed exceptionally well for Worcestershire,” he said.
“He’s in the form of his life with the bat, and obviously ball as well, and he’s taken that straight into Test cricket. I couldn’t be more pleased with him.
“He’s someone that’s a big part of the dressing-room, and it’s always really nice when he goes out there and performs. He’s such a big star of this team, and I think that’s going to be the case moving forward,” he said.