Joe Root has urged his England team to be “braver” and to free themselves from fear in the fourth and final Test against India starting on Thursday.
The tourists have sustained heavy defeats in the past two matches — by 317 runs in Chennai and 10 wickets in a chastening two-day finish in Ahmedabad — but can still draw the series 2-2.
Ever since Root’s double century in the series opener paved the way for a score of 578 and a landmark win, England have struggled against spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel.
Root’s side have been bowled out for 134, 164, 112 and 81 but he wants his team to stop being paralysed by worry and try to land a few more blows of their own.
“We’ve got all the ingredients, all the pieces and all the skills to exploit and succeed in these conditions,” he said.
“It is important we harness that, have it in the front of our mind and be a bit braver actually, play with a little bit more freedom.
“That doesn’t mean going out there and trying to slog it, or be ultra-aggressive — we need to play our game a certain way but it is about not being scared of the conditions.”
The skipper wants each player to trust their chosen methods in the Test, also being held in Ahmedabad.
“Everyone’s idea of what fearless is is slightly different. But being fearless is not having that tentative mentality of being trapped on the crease or being caught in two minds,” explained Root.
“They have to have the freedom to feel like they can go and play, trust their games to go and score runs.”
Off-spinner Dom Bess looks likely to earn a recall after two games on the sidelines. The 23-year-old was initially dropped for Moeen Ali, only to be overlooked again when he flew back home.
Root admits the decision to invest heavily in seamers for the day/night Test in Ahmedabad was an error of judgement and appears ready to hand Bess another chance.
“I think if the pitch looks anything like the last one, he’ll be licking his lips at the opportunity,” said the captain.
“You look at the side for the last match and we got that wrong, we read the pitch wrong in terms of the way we selected the team.”