By Dave Clark
Joe Root believes early wickets on day five will be key to England’s victory push against India in the third Investec Test at the Ageas Bowl.
Root scored 56 from just 41 balls as England set India a mammoth 445 to win in four sessions on a deteriorating pitch.
He then claimed the wicket of Shikhar Dhawan with his off-spin as the tourists were reduced to 112 for four by stumps, still 333 runs short of an improbable victory.
“If we can get a couple of early ones tomorrow then we’ll put them really under pressure,” Root told ecb.co.uk.
England began the day with birthday boy James Anderson dismissing Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Mohammed Shami to complete a five-wicket haul and leave India 330 all out in their first innings.
Root and captain Alastair Cook, who fired an unbeaten 70, then put on 99 for the fourth wicket as England added a rapid 205 for four declared.
Stuart Broad then ran out Murali Vijay, and fellow spinner Moeen Ali picked up the scalps of Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli either side of Root’s strike to leave the home side firmly in command.
“I thought the tone was set this morning with us getting those two early wickets,” Root added. “I thought the guys did really well to take those.
“Then Cooky was brilliant setting the platform and allowing the other guys to bat round him.
“Cooky laid the foundations and read the situation extremely well. He made it possible for Ian [Bell], myself and Gary [Ballance] to be a bit more free around him so credit has to go to Alastair there.
“To get four wickets is obviously fantastic. We wanted to make inroads but four is brilliant and obviously gives us a great chance going into tomorrow to get a result.
“We wanted to have at least a session at them tonight and it’s given us an opportunity to take wickets and we’re in a great position going into tomorrow with four on the board already.”
Of his rare spell with the ball in this format, Root continued: “It’s nice to contribute with the ball. I don’t get to do that very often – there’s probably a reason for that!
“All we can do is make sure we put the ball in the right areas often enough, create chances and make sure we take them.”