Chennai: England have set a benchmark for themselves with their monumental victory against India in the first Test, said gushed captain Joe Root while admitting that competing on spin-friendly tracks in Sri Lanka prepared them nicely for this tour.
England inflicted on India a humiliating 227-run defeat to go 1-0 up in the four-Test series but the visiting skipper has no doubt that the home team has the kind of players who can exact revenge.
"I'm very proud of the way we've played this week. We have set a benchmark now, we've got something to work for to compare ourselves. Still, there are areas we can improve on. We can still get better," Root said at the post-match press conference.
"We know that India are an extremely good team, especially in these conditions. And they're a very proud nation as well. They've got some exceptional players so they'll come back hard."
The skipper, who made a brilliant 218 which was the cornerstone of England's massive first innings total, mentioned the role played by the Sri Lanka series ahead of the India assignment. England had won that series 2-0 with Root leading from the front with his big hundreds.
"It certainly served us well, coming out here, having faced the volume of spin that we have, having the confidence of winning. And playing on a similar kind of wicket, wasn't the same by any stretch, but the tempo of the cricket that you play in the sub-continent I think served us really well coming into this game."
"The pleasing thing for me was to set a big first-innings run, and we delivered it. We said we needed to be smart about how we're going to take 20 wickets, and we delivered it."
Root said the challenge before them now is to repeat the magnificent performance. "Can we replicate that, can we go one better, can we keep looking to improve as a team and can we take it on individually that makes a difference."
About not declaring and not accelerating the scoring during the second innings on day four which drew criticism from some quarters, Root said the idea was to not give the home team any chance of winning the game
"I wanted to make sure that more than anything there were only two possible results. It would have been damaging had we lost this game. I knew that the way that it deteriorated the last three days in particular that coming into today it was gonna happen even quicker again. All we needed to do, be relentless with the areas we were bowling.
"Put the ball in good areas for a long period of time and the wicket will do the rest. It was just about holding on," Root added.
The England captain also patted left-arm spinner Jack Leach for staging a strong comeback in the second Indian innings after being hammered by Rishabh Pant in the first.
Leach scalped four batsmen in India's chase.
"Brilliant. (Dom) Bessy as well, in the first innings he took four wickets. As a whole group we needed to work together. Leachy obviously came into the wickets today. Jack was asked to do a job, against Pant, take a bit of a risk, see if he can take you on, try and create a chance.
"Unfortunately it wasn't quite fulfilling but for him to have the character and I suppose the skill level to come back from that shows where he's at with this cricket. And it's really pleasing to see him get rewards today, because throughout the whole Test, he was asked to perform in a certain way and he delivered every time. So I couldn't be more proud," he said.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler won't be part of the series after Tuesday's win and changes are likely in their line-up. The England skipper said they have got good options.
"It's really important that we look after our players so that everyone comes into the game fit, fresh and ready and able to deliver their skill 100 percent.
"The work ethic from the whole squad, even the guys that aren't in the squad, is to go better all the time, adapt to the conditions and it serves well on the field. You can see the results."
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