England batsmen hungry for runs in fourth Test – Root

Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings in action for England

England captain Joe Root says his batsmen are “very hungry” to prove themselves in the fourth Test against India, which begins on Thursday.

The hosts were bowled out for 161 in the first innings of the third Test as India cut their series deficit to 2-1.

However, England can still seal the series with victory in Southampton.

“It’s been frustrating, but this is another opportunity to put it right,” said Root. “There are a lot of very hungry guys to do that.”

England lost all 10 of their first-innings wickets between lunch and tea on the second day at Trent Bridge, the third time in less than two years that they have been bowled out in the space of a single session.

The home side then fell to 62-4 in the second innings, the latest in a string of top-order disappointments that has seen them lose their fourth wicket with the score on 100 or lower in half of their previous 62 Test innings.

From there, Ben Stokes shared a fifth-wicket stand of 169 with Jos Buttler, who completing his maiden Test century.

Root added: “Having seen Jos go and score a Test century, and how much that means to him, hopefully that drives other guys on too.”

In that second innings at Trent Bridge, Stokes was promoted to number five and Buttler to six after Jonny Bairstow suffered a broken finger while keeping wicket.

They will keep those places in Southampton, with Buttler taking the gloves and Bairstow, playing as a specialist batsman, moving up to four.

He fills the role vacated by the omitted Ollie Pope. His place has been taken by Moeen Ali, who will bat at number seven.

“The way that Jos and Ben batted at Trent Bridge in the second innings at five and six means they should be given the opportunity to do that again,” said Root.

“It was a fine partnership and a great example for the guys of how to play Test cricket in difficult circumstances. It was good lesson to the rest coming into this week.

England cricket player Jonny Bairstow

“Moeen will bat at seven because that is where we feel we get the best out of him. Even though it was at three for Worcestershire, generally he has performed at his best for England at number seven. It gives us good depth in that department.”

England’s reshuffled middle order comes behind an opening pair of Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings, both of whom are struggling for runs.

Cook is England’s all-time Test run-scorer, but averages only 19.21 in 2018, while Jennings is faring little better since he was recalled earlier in the summer, averaging 20.50.

Four years ago, Cook arrived in Southampton against the same opponents as an under-fire captain, struggling for batting form and with his side in the middle of a horrible run of results.

They had been whitewashed 5-0 in Australia, gone through the controversy of sacking Kevin Pietersen, suffered a home series defeat by Sri Lanka and were 1-0 down to India after two matches.

Cook responded with 95 in the first innings, beginning a turnaround that eventually saw England win the series 3-1.

“It was brilliant wasn’t it?” said Root. “I remember sitting in the dressing room almost a little bit emotional for him. That was the feeling within the group, how much he means to the squad.

“That was a big week for him in turning around where his game was at. He’s always liked playing here so hopefully we can see some big runs from him again.

“I’d love nothing more than him to go out and make a big double hundred. Whenever he’s backed into a corner, he does something rather special. It would be good for to set things up from the top of the order and play a big innings as he has done on a number of occasions.”

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BBC Sport – Cricket

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