Just to jog his memory, even on the momentous tour of Australia, India had suffered a debilitating loss in the opening Test in Adelaide, where it was bowled out for an ignominious 36 with the match itself getting over inside two-and-a-half days.
What transpired next needs no reiteration as Indian team’s wondrous feats had found their pride of place in the annals of cricketing folklore.
Any other side would have plumbed the depths of despair given the hiding it received, but the present bunch of Indian cricketers amply demonstrated that their nerves were made of steel, steadfastly refusing to flinch from the challenges of various hues or the torrent of ‘abuse’ hurled at them.
The fact that India had emerged victorious by standing in harm’s way, readily putting their bodies on the line, was evidenced by the multiple blows sustained by Cheteshwar Pujara on the fifth day in Brisbane.
And to further drive home the message of how herculean a task it is to subjugate India in its backyard, the last time Virat Kohli-led team lost the first Test of a series, against Australia in 2017, in Pune, it fought back to claim the four-match series 2-1.
In his pre-match press conference, Root emphasised that his team is prepared for a ‘backlash’ from the wounded host and has demanded a much-improved performance from his side to foil India’s designs of making a comeback.
On missing key duo of Archer and Anderson for second Test: Jofra bowled better than his figures suggest. It was a brilliant start back into the Test team for him. It’s a setback but the good news is that he should recover in time for the third Test. As for Anderson, everyone’s heart was in favour of him being available for this game, but you should look at the bigger picture. We want to give him the best chance to be fit and firing in the last two games. And ideally if he is available for two of the last three that’s a huge asset for us as a team.
On the challenge he expects from India: It certainly provides a stern challenge. It’s not as tough as being 1-0 down. We are in a very good position. We played brilliant cricket and we will take a lot of confidence into this week. But we won’t get ahead of ourselves. We know how much hard work it would take to win in these conditions. It’s an exciting group of players full of confidence. The thing that impressed me from last week was how well we implemented our game plan. We managed to get those big first innings runs that we often talk about.
On the exclusion of Dom Bess: It wasn’t an easy decision. Dom has contributed fantastically well in the last three games and he has made a real impact. The message for him is to keep working on his consistency and delivering time and time again. He is very young and at the start of his career. This doesn’t mean he is going to be pushed back down the pecking order. Bess will be frustrated but we want there to be competition for places. I expect a response from him.
On the likely inclusion of Olly Stone: Stone has made the most of every opportunity he has had. There is a lot of freshness in his body and mind and like everyone else he is excited about playing. He has a huge amount of skill and pace to back it up.