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India vs England: Visitors’ skipper Joe Root says they want to make WTC final, but don’t want to look too far into future

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A day before his side take on India in the pink-ball Test at Ahmedabad’s Motera Stadium, England skipper Joe Root has said his side is looking to make it to the World Test Championship final, but are trying to avoid looking too far at the future.

With New Zealand already having secured their spot in the final, the race to play against them has boiled down to the result of the India-England Test series.

England will need to win both Tests to seal their spot in the final which will be held at the Lord’s, while hosts India just need to win the series by a 2-1 margin. Should the series end tied, or should the hosts lose 1-2, Australia will sneak into the final against their trans-Tasman rivals.

“Obviously, our goal is to try and get to the World Test Championship final. We go into every Test trying to do everything to win,” Root told journalists in an online media interaction on the eve of the third Test. “But it’s easy to get sucked into looking too far ahead. I’m being extremely cliched, but we’ve just got to look after that first session tomorrow. We’ve seen how important that is. We’ve been on the wrong side of that in a previous pink-ball game. We want to do everything we can to win this game, and then hopefully we can be in a position to talk about making it to the World Test Championship as a real possibility.

“We’ve got to look after this week first. The challenges that this Test will present might be very stark from what we saw at Chennai.”

Root’s men won the first Test by 227 runs at Chepauk, only to see the hosts level the series with a 317-run victory, thanks to game-changing performances from Ravichandran Ashwin (who claimed 5/43 and 3/53 besides scoring 106 in an innings) and a 161-run knock from Rohit Sharma.

Guarding against collapse

The last time England played in a pink-ball Test, at Auckland back in 2018, they were bowled out for 58 by New Zealand in just 20.4 overs.

India, on the other hand, have experienced their own nadir in their last pink-ball Test: they were bowled out for 36 against Australia at Adelaide in the first Test in December last year.

“That has been a trend in pink-ball Tests. There have been collapses on occasion. As a batting group, you need to make sure you stop the trend. One thing that stands out for me is that in the first 20 balls, (you need to) make sure that you get used to tracking the ball, get used to the conditions, and being aware of how things can change throughout the day,” said Root, who has been part of three day-night Tests, racking up a century (against West Indies) and two 50+ scores.

The England captain went on to emphasise that it wasn’t necessarily playing under the lights that was causing batting collapses.

“It’s not necessarily one moment under the lights or in the twilight period that has that effect (leading to a collapse). It’s sometimes been right at the start of the game or in the morning session or late on in Day 4 where these strange passages of play have happened,” he added.

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