Joe Root hailed his best series as Test captain after four wickets for Moeen Ali inspired his side to a 60-run win over India and a 3-1 series win with a game to play.
Moeen finished with nine in the match against the world’s No 1 Test side, leaving Root to celebrate his first series victory since beating West Indies last summer – the prelude to defeats in Australia and New Zealand, and a home draw with Pakistan.
‘I think it probably has been my best series,’ he said. ‘It’s definitely been the most enjoyable. I feel like I’ve had quite a big input into what’s been going on, felt very much in control of things, and I’ve got a real clear vision of how I see us improving long term as a group.
Joe Root hailed his best series as Test captain after sealing a series victory over India
Four wickets for Moeen Ali inspired his side to a 60-run win to take an unassailable 3-1 lead
‘It’s a really exciting time for me and for this team. I hope it’s a big step in the right direction for us, and we can go from strength to strength.’
There were moments during the fourth Test in Southampton when Root cut a frustrated figure as he discussed field placings with Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, his two senior fast bowlers.
And he admitted: ‘You’ve two very experienced bowlers who know what they’re doing and what they’re trying to do. There are times you want to allow them to do that, and times when you feel they’ve done that for long enough and it’s your turn to have a say in things.’
Root also defended his decision to drop down a place to No 4 in the middle of the Test, a move which forced Moeen Ali up four places to No 3. The arrangement may well stay in place for the fifth Test at The Oval, which begins on Friday.
Root also defended his decision to drop down a place to No 4 in the middle of the Test
‘I’ve always favoured No 4,’ said Root. ‘It’s always been the place I felt I get best out of myself. We made the decision for Mo to bat at No. 3 purely on the situation of the game. It was made the night before that second innings and it was all about scoring runs.’
The fact that Moeen made only nine after he was promoted summed up England’s top-order problems, and Root admitted they were among the main issues to sort out ahead of The Oval.
For India, too, there are questions to answer after they let a string of promising positions slip in Southampton.
‘We’ve spoken about during the match, how when we are in the driving position we should be able to capitalise on it, and not let the opposition in and let them fight back again and again,’ said their captain Virat Kohli.
‘At Nottingham we were relentless and on top. We need to be like that at the start of a series as well.
‘But we don’t need to prove to anyone that we have the ability. Not many teams come close to us at home, so to make the home sides earn victories against us when we are abroad is a huge boost to us. But England played better cricket than us and deserved to win the Test match.’
India captain Virat Kohli believes his side were not cut-throat enough when in good positions