England fancied its chances of chasing down 368 on Day Five and it was frustrating to go 2-1 down in the series after being ahead for much of the contest, captain Joe Root said as he reflected on his team’s 157-run defeat at the Oval.
At 100 for 0, England was well on course for a win, but 10 wickets fell for 110 – a majority of them in the post-lunch session – to hand India a comfortable win in the end.
“It’s disappointing. Frustrating. Especially when we came in today with the opportunity to go and win a Test match,” Root said, addressing reporters.
“To have been bowled out is hard to take and it’ll be hard for the lads to take. But if you look at how we’ve responded from Lord’s, and the performance we put in at Headingley, we’ve got to look to do exactly the same when we go to Old Trafford,” he said.
If his team had wickets in hand by tea time, the pressure would have been on India to prevent England from getting the runs, felt Root, as the pitch was still excellent for batting.
“We had to try to get ourselves to a position to dictate terms. It would have to be the case if we had wickets in hand. We certainly set things up nicely, at lunch, we would have been only one down (131 for 2). It was more like a position, near tea, where we could have wickets in hand we would have definitely looked to put our foot on the gas and put India under pressure.
“On this wicket, you always feel like you can score runs quickly. India would have probably had defensive fields, and they would probably have in the back of their minds the fact that we could chase this down. Of course, we couldn’t quite take it deep enough. And it was a wonderful spell from Bumrah that turned the game. They got the ball reversing nicely and took advantage of it,” Root said.
‘Got to get ruthless’
Root clarified, however, that it wasn’t the second innings where England lost the game, it was the first. He felt his team should have obtained a bigger first-innings lead.
“It’s been frustrating today, to lose 10 wickets. But actually where the game was lost, where we could have really stamped our authority, was earlier in the game, I think. We should have got a bigger lead the first time around with the bat. It would have been nice to have another 100 runs, actually. Then it would have looked a very different game.
“I think we’ve got to get a little bit more ruthless there; not getting more first-innings runs, that really cost us. As well as our catching, we did put down a few chances. Some of them were extremely difficult, that has to be said, but at the same time you give half chances to world-class players, they’ll take them. We’ve seen that throughout this game,” he said.
Root was referring to Rohit Sharma, who was dropped twice in the slips by Rory Burns during his 127 in the second innings, an innings that allowed India to post 466 on the board and set England a daunting – if not ungettable – target.
The absence of Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes from the series did affect England, but Root felt it couldn’t detract from the fact that his team should have got something out of the fourth Test.
“They’re world-class players. And it is frustrating that we have to manage without them. But at the same time, we look at the players that we got here, we absolutely feel like we shouldn’t be in this place in this series; as well as India have played this week, I feel like we should have got something out of this Test match,” he said.
England should more consistently recognise key moments in the game to make decisive impacts during those moments, felt Root.
Jasprit Bumrah lives up to early promise
“We have to keep looking to learn and looking to get better. And be a little bit more ruthless. At certain parts of the game, looking at certain situations, and gaining that advantageous position which proves so crucial within a Test match,” he said.
England can take heart from a comeback in the third Test at Leeds after a defeat at Lord’s, and Root was confident of a series-levelling win at Old Trafford.
“As we’ve recently shown, we are more than capable of turning things around very quickly. And we have to make sure that we get ourselves in a frame of mind in the next couple of days to do just that. So there’s every confidence that we can go to Old Trafford and get a win.”