Joe Root rues England's 'missed opportunities' after Jasprit Bumrah throws fifth day into reverse
England captain says they should have been more "ruthless" in first innings
England captain Joe Root highlighted his side's lack of "ruthlessness" with the bat in their first innings, as well as dropped catches and a pivotal spell of reverse-swing from Jasprit Bumrah on the final afternoon, after India wrapped up victory in the fourth Test at the Kia Oval for a 2-1 series lead.
Having been set a record chase of 368 to win, England reached 100 without loss on the fifth morning, but suffered a dramatic slide after lunch, losing 4 for 6 inside six overs with Bumrah to the fore. Thoughts of a historic fourth-innings pursuit quickly evaporated, and the dismissal of Root for 36 shortly before tea all but extinguished England's chances of seeing out the day for a draw.
Root gave credit to India, calling Bumrah's spell the "turning point", but was quick to look elsewhere for reasons behind the 157-run defeat. Having bowled out India for 191 on the first day - which itself represented something of a recovery from 127 for 7 - England took a 99-run lead on first innings; but none of their middle order was able to fully capitalise on good positions, with Ollie Pope making 81, and Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali 37 and 35 respectively.
"It's frustrating not to be able to get something from the game today, we turned up this morning and really felt we had an opportunity to win the Test," Root told Sky Sports. "The opening partnership was outstanding, but credit to India, they got the ball to reverse and made good use of that, it was a brilliant spell of bowling from Bumrah and that really was the turning point.
"More from my side of things, we'd look at other areas in the Test where we may have missed opportunities, could have been a little bit better, could have made more of an advantage of that first-innings lead. And obviously in the field, as well, as difficult as some of those chances were, you've got to take them against world-class players.
"Whenever you lose the game you can look at the toss. More than anything, you look at what lead we had and what we could have potentially had. That's the thing, we've got to be a bit more ruthless there, we've got to make that a 200-run lead instead of a 100-run lead, especially the way the surface was playing. It's about those big partnerships, we had a number of good starts, guys getting in and not managing to go on, that's something we've got to be clinical at, not get complacent."
England's head coach, Chris Silverwood, echoed the point, saying he would have liked to "go further past" India on first innings.
"If we're being truthful, I would like to have gone further past them at that point, that's going to be the opportunity to really put pressure on the Indians," he said. "We failed to do that so it's something we'll reflect on in the dressing room and talk about amongst ourselves. It would have been great to go maybe 190 past them and really pile the pressure on, but again credit to the Indians, they know how to fight back."
A second century opening stand in successive Tests between Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed had given England hope of pulling off something special on the fifth day. In contrast to the draw with New Zealand at Lord's earlier in the summer, when they declined to chase 273 in 75 overs, Root said England were keen to take on the chase - but Burns was removed by Shardul Thakur for 50 and Dawid Malan was run out soon after as the home side stuttered.
"We had to earn the right to get ourselves in a position to dictate terms," Root said. "It was always going to have to be the case that we needed wickets in hand. We certainly set things up nicely. Going into lunch it would have been nice to be only one down. It was more if we got into a position near tea where we had wickets in hand then we could have definitely looked to put our foot on the gas and put India under pressure.
"You know when there is wickets in hand you always feel like you can score quickly. India would have probably had to be a little more defensive with some of their fields and they would have had that in the back of their mind that we could chase them down. Unfortunately we couldn't quite take it deep enough and that was a wonderful spell of bowling that really turned the game."
It was Bumrah's spell of 2 for 6 from six overs just after lunch that knocked the stuffing out of England. With the old ball reversing, he bowled Pope for 2 and then yorked Bairstow with a vicious inswinging yorker for a duck. Either side of those dismissals, Ravindra Jadeja removed Hameed and Moeen as India took a grip.
"I think you've always got to look at ways of getting better, and managing different periods of play, absolutely," Root said. "But at the same time you've got to be realistic and understand that was world-class bowling. [Bumrah] saw an opportunity within the game and performed extremely well. Sometimes you've got to find a way of managing through that period. It's something we'll look at, there's a chance there might be some reverse swing at Old Trafford, have to manage it better if we come across a similar situation."
Another aspect for concern was England's catching, with six chances being spilled throughout the game - including India's second-innings centurion, Rohit Sharma, being missed twice by Burns, albeit one was a tough diving effort that he did well to get a hand to.
"There were some very difficult chances, a lot of players might not even get to that one that Burnsy went to, the fact he covered so much ground's a great effort. It is a difficult viewing ground at times here but we've got to keep looking to get better, looking to take those chances. It's not for lack of effort, or work in practice or how we're preparing for games, we've just got to keep putting yourself in those positions and be brave enough to take it on."
With the third of back-to-back-to-back Tests set to get underway at Old Trafford on Friday, and their new-ball pair of James Anderson and Ollie Robinson having bowled more than 160 overs in the series so far, England may have to look at making changes to the attack. Craig Overton also suffered a painful blow to his right elbow when being dismissed by Umesh Yadav, while Saqib Mahmood, who was part of the squad before being released to play for Lancashire, has reportedly suffered a side strain - although there was better news on the fitness of Mark Wood, after he hurt his shoulder in the field at Lord's.
"Woody's coming good, that's promising," Root said. "It has been a frustrating summer in terms of the amount of injuries we've had to contend with, that's not an excuse but something that's been difficult to manage. But the guys that have had the opportunity to play and the way they've thrown themselves into the series, they've been excellent. It'll be one big push for the guys that go out and play next week at Old Trafford."
On whether Anderson might be fit enough to make his seventh Test appearance of the summer - something he hasn't managed since 2018 - Root added: "I think you have to weigh everything up - you have to take everything into account, make sure that physically he's in the right place to be able to play a Test match. And also that he makes sure that he can get through it, because at the same time, even with his quality if he goes down injured, it leaves us in a very difficult place, not only for the rest of the game, but for the winter as well.
"So we have to be smart about it we have to make sure we make the right calls. Ultimately, we've got to try and find a way of winning as well so it's a delicate balancing act, one that we'll try and make sure we get right."
England now face needing to win at Old Trafford to avoid losing both home series this summer. "You never want to lose any Test series so it's going to be very important that we bounce back very quickly just as we did a week ago [at Headingley] and put in a similar sort of performance at Old Trafford," Root said.