Kolkata: The England camp, left devastated after going down inside two days in the third Test at Ahmedabad, have decided that the best way to pick up the pieces and give themselves a chance to square the series is by playing fearless cricket over the next few days. The fourth Test begins at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Thursday and the hosts have already said it’s going to be a ‘‘similar’’ wicket to that of the last game or that of the second Test in Chennai.
Joe Root, the England captain, wants his team to stop being paralysed by worry and try to land a few more blows of their own. “We’ve got all the ingredients, all the pieces and all the skills to exploit and succeed in these conditions,” he said at a virtual conference.
“It is important we harness that, have it in the front of our mind and be a bit braver actually; play with a little bit more freedom. That doesn’t mean going out there and trying to slog it, or be ultra-aggressive, we need to play our game a certain way but it is about not being scared of the conditions.
“It’s having that confidence to play the ball in front of you, not having the baggage from the previous delivery, not over-thinking the pitch, trying to see things for what they are.
“And if you get an opportunity to score, you absolutely have to commit to it. That kind of mentality and attitude is really important on surfaces that are extreme and are spinning quite heavily. You need to be able to put pressure back on the bowlers,” said Root, whose team began the series on a winning note before being done in by Ravichandran Ashwin & Co.
The job is earlier said than done for the visiting batsmen, who have been bowled out for totals of 134, 164, 112 and 81 after their mammoth effort of scoring 578 on a flatbed in the first Test in Chennai.
“Everyone’s idea of what fearless is is slightly different. But being fearless is not having that tentative mentality of being trapped on the crease or being caught in two minds,” Root harped on his point. “They have to have the freedom to feel like they can go and play, trust their games to go and score runs.”
Off-spinner Dom Bess looks likely to earn a recall after two games on the sidelines. The 23-year-old was initially dropped for Moeen Ali, only to be overlooked again when he flew back home.
Root, who had been having a tough time in trying to strike a balance against overtly criticising the last pitch as well as keeping the team morale up, admitted the decision to invest heavily in seamers for the pink ball Test was an error of judgement and appears ready to hand Bess another chance.
“I think if the pitch looks anything like the last one, he’ll be licking his calips at the opportunity,” he said. “You look at the side for the last match and we got that wrong, we read the pitch wrong in terms of the way we selected the team.
The England camp has been hit by a bout of illness over recent days, with a handful of players and assistant coach Paul Collingwood going down with symptoms, but had a full house at training on Tuesday and are hopeful that they can turn the corner.
Catch the match
India vs England
Fourth Test at Ahmedabad
Match begins at 8 am UAE