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Joe Root: 'A week like this doesn't define us as a team'

Root put his side's failure down to their first-innings collapse when they went from 74 for 2 to 112 all out

Valkerie Baynes
Valkerie Baynes
Joe Root says England's 10-wicket defeat to India inside two days of the third Test won't define his team, who also fell out of contention for a place in the WTC final as a result.
On a day when 17 wickets fell in a match described by his opposite number, Virat Kohli, as "bizarre", Root, the England captain, claimed 5 for 8 with his part-time offspin as India, resuming on 99 for 3 were bowled out for 145, a first-innings lead of just 33.
But his first Test five-for was small consolation when England managed just 81 in their second innings as Axar Patel claimed another five-for and 11 for the match and R Aswhin passed 400 Test wickets with his seventh for the match.
"It sums up the wicket up slightly, if I'm getting five wickets on there, then you can tell it is giving a fair amount of spin," Root told the host broadcaster after the match. "It's nice to contribute but disappointing it's in a losing cause."
That left India needing just 49 runs in their second innings and they got there with ease, Rohit bringing up the winning runs with a six off Root.
While debate raged long into the night about the state of a pitch on which scarcely more than five sessions constituted a match, Root put his side's failure down to their first-innings collapse when they went from 74 for 2 to 112 all out, having won the toss and chosen to bat first.
"A week like this doesn't define us as a team, we know what we're capable of doing and we'll come back and use the hurt of this week as motivation going into that last game," Root said.
"It was a very challenging surface," Root added later in his press conference. "We are bitterly disappointed we have missed an opportunity more in that first innings than anything, having been 70-odd for two we had a real chance. In hindsight, if we had even got 200 that would have been a very good score on that wicket and the game would have been completely different.
"It is frustrating and something we have to learn from - we have to get better and we have to keep finding a way to score runs on surfaces like this but it is very challenging, you could see that from the scores throughout the whole game - even guys that are more used to playing on turning wickets."
Root also defended England's selection of just one frontline spinner in Jack Leach, who took 4 for 54 in India's first Innings as spinners accounted for all but two of the 30 wickets to fall in the match, with Moeen Ali sent home to rest and Dom Bess overlooked for this and the previous Test.
"We looked to try and play our best side in terms of utilising that pink ball," Root said. "We thought the wicket would hold together better than it did. Throughout all the practice days it seamed around, it swung prodigiously and seam looked a threatening option.
"It's easy in hindsight to select a different team but we wanted to play our seamers, which we feel is a big strength of ours, give them the chance to exploit those conditions, unfortunately it was a slight misread in that regard."
Root believed that the pink ball was a considerable factor for both batting sides, with Kohli also rating the batting overall in this match as not "up to standard".
"I honestly think the ball had quite a big factor in this wicket, the plastic coating on it, the hardness of the seam compared to the red SG ball, meant it almost gathered pace off the wicket," Root said. "Credit to Axar, in particular, he exploited that exceptionally well and found a very good method, a very repeatable method, on that surface."
Pressed on the pitch conditions and whether host nations should lose WTC points should a pitch be rated poor by the ICC, Root said "I'm sure off the back of this things will get looked at" and "I'm sure they'll look at other wickets around the world at different times".
"I think that this surface is a very challenging one, a very difficult one to play on," he said. "It's not for players to decide if it's fit for purpose, that's up to the ICC. As players we have to try to counter it as best we can.
"Let's not hide away from the fact that we've been outplayed here. On this surface we've still been outplayed and we have to accept that. It's a real shame because it's a fantastic stadium, there's 60,000 people come to watch a brilliant, iconic Test match and I feel for them... the fact of the matter is it was a challenge for both sides and as a player you can only play what's in front of you and credit to India, they outplayed us on that wicket."
Now leading the series 2-1, India go into the last match starting on March 4 also in Ahmedabad, albeit in the morning as opposed to a day-night match, needing only a draw to reach the WTC final against New Zealand at Lord's in June. England needed to defeat India 3-1 to reach the final.
Root said it was important his side went into the final match of this series without any "baggage" from losing two on the trot.
"We can't have any scars going into the last game," he said. "We've got to keep looking forward and we've got to keep remembering we won six on the bounce away from home coming into the last two games and won six on the bounce in the sub-continent, so you don't become a bad team overnight.
"We go into next week with a very good attitude and we take the hurt from this and apply it in our performance and use it as motivation to come away with something."

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo