India v England: Joe Root says players ‘shouldn’t be scared’

Ahmedabad (BBC): Captain Joe Root says England’s batsmen “shouldn’t be scared” of the pitch or India’s bowlers in the final Test in Ahmedabad starting on Thursday.

England, 2-1 down after losing the previous two Tests, have not made a total higher than 178 in their past five innings. “The most important thing is we go into it full of confidence,” said Root. “We should have no scars from the last two Tests and play in a controlled but fearless way.”

England’s two defeats – by 317 runs in the second Test in Chennai and 10 wickets in the third Test Ahmedabad – have been engineered by India’s spinners, who took 36 of the 40 wickets on pitches offering plenty of assistance.

Batting was especially difficult in Ahmedabad, with the third Test over in two days and only two players reaching 50.

Root said the surface for the fourth Test, to be played on the same ground but this time during the day and with a red ball, looked “similar” to the pitch from the day-night third Test, when a pink ball was used.

While the pitches have been a source of debate in the media, Root reiterated that his team had never “moaned” about them.

“Everyone’s opinion on what is a good wicket is different,” he said.

“As players, all you can do is make sure you play what is in front of you better than the opposition. That is our challenge for this week.”

India captain Virat Kohli said he “didn’t understand” why the pitches had come into such focus.

“There’s always too much noise and conversation around spinning tracks,” said Kohli, whose team will reach the World Test Championship final if they avoid defeat.

“If you win a Test on day four or five no-one says anything, but if you win in two days everyone pounces on the same issue.

India will be without fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah, who left the squad for personal reasons. England are likely to recall off-spinner Dom Bess after he was overlooked for their past two Tests. That would mean at least one of pace bowlers James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Jofra Archer being omitted, with the prospect of others from that trio being rested as part of England’s rotation policy.