Joe Root has challenged his England side to deliver when it matters by beating India, the world’s top-ranked Test team, in this summer’s five-match series.
India will stay as the world No 1 side regardless of the outcome while England are fifth in the standings, having won just one of their last nine Tests.
England vs India
August 1, 2018, 10:00am
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However, Root is confident that his players are ready to perform in the showpiece series of the English summer.
“We’ve got five games against the world No 1-ranked side and we can make a bit of a statement if we play well and win this series,” Root told reporters.
“It’s going to be hard, they’ve got some world class players in their side and we’re going to have to be very consistent in performing. If we can do that then we’ll be deserved winners.
“You can see that hunger from the guys in the dressing room, I feel like we’re in a good place going into it and now it’s just about delivering when it matters.”
1:16 Joe Root says Adil Rashid gives the team an exciting attacking option against India
The debate over the inclusion of Adil Rashid has dominated the build-up to Wednesday’s first Test at Edgbaston but Root believes the leg-spinner has been unaffected by the criticism of former players such as Geoffrey Boycott and Michael Vaughan and has backed him to transfer his white-ball form into the longer format.
Jos Buttler was able to do just that on his return to the Test side against Pakistan and after just two matches back in the red-ball team, he has been named vice-captain for the series with Root confident he can help “drive the team forward”.
He replaces James Anderson, who has fulfilled the role for the past three series since Ben Stokes’ arrest last September, but Root insists it is not a reflection on the job done by the 36-year-old seamer.
“Jimmy is still going to be a massive part in driving this team forward for the next few years in particular,” he added.
“It is hard to explain how good he is, he has so many tricks, he’s so consistent and he’s a proven world class performer, especially in these conditions. He looks strong, he looks fit and as long as that’s the case, I imagine he’ll carry on playing for a really long time.
“It fills me with confidence having him in the side, knowing that you’ve got someone of that quality leading your attack.”
India captain Virat Kohli is well aware of the threat Anderson poses after he was dismissed four times by the No 1-ranked Test bowler on India’s last tour of England in 2014.
Kohli failed to make a single fifty in that series and despite establishing himself as one of the world’s leading batsmen in the four years since, questions have continued to be asked about his ability to deal with the moving ball in English conditions ahead of this series.
“I genuinely don’t read anything, I don’t know what’s going on,” Kohli said. “My only focus was on my preparation and where the team has to head.
“If I waste my energy on all these things then I’m compromising my mindset already because when I walk out to bat, I have the bat in hand, not people on the outside who write and predict things.
“I need to be in the most convinced and clear mental state that I can be and that happens when I am just focused on what I need to do.
“I have no complaints whatsoever and I am not in the frame of mind to prove myself in any country, I just want to perform for the team. Obviously, I want to score runs for the team and I want to take Indian cricket forward, that’s my only motive.”
Having taken India to the top of the world rankings, in large part down to their dominance on home soil, Kohli believes his team now have what it takes to replicate that form abroad, with a tour of Australia to follow the series in England.
5:07 Sachin Tendulkar and Ravi Shastri talk exclusively to Sky Sports' Nasser Hussain about what makes Kohli the player he is
“We’re pretty confident of our abilities, that we have the skillset, the characters and the mental toughness that is required to compete and win in overseas conditions,” he said.
“How we played in South Africa gave us a lot of confidence so we’re very excited to put ourselves through tough situations and obviously countries like England and Australia provide you with a test that has been difficult in previous years.
“But the only way to look at it is to be optimistic and to look forward to tough situations, which we are.”
Watch the first Test between England and India from 10am, Wednesday on Sky Sports Cricket and Main Event.