SOUTHAMPTON: Joe Root believes England's series victory over world number one-ranked India has been his best campaign yet as a Test captain.
England competed a 60-run win over India with more than a day to spare at Southampton on Sunday to take an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series ahead of next week's finale at The Oval.
India, set 245 to win in an absorbing contest, were dismissed for 184, with off-spinner Moeen Ali completing an impressive Test return to by taking four for 71, a haul that left him with nine wickets in the match overall.
Root began his reign as England skipper last year with home series wins over South Africa and the West Indies.
But the Yorkshireman then saw England suffer away defeats in Australia and New Zealand before escaping with a drawn series at home to Pakistan earlier this season.
Root, asked if this had been his best series as captain, replied: "Yes, I think it probably has been. I feel like I've had quite a big input into what's been going on, felt very (much) in control of things — and I've got a real clear vision of how I see us improving long term."
This match was in the balance while India captain Virat Kohli (58) and Ajinkya Rahane (51) were adding 101 for the fourth wicket.
But Ali, exploiting a wearing pitch, eventually dismissed both batsmen to swing the game decisively England's way.
"I was fairly confident that if we bowled to our potential... then we'd have enough in the bank to get across the line," said Root. "The biggest challenge for us was if we could stay calm and collected and trust that if we stuck to what we wanted to do for long periods of time the wicket would do the rest for us."
This was Ali's first Test match of the season after he was dropped in New Zealand
"He's been brilliant," said Root of Worcestershire all-rounder Ali. "I couldn't be more pleased for him. He's such a big part of this team, and I think that's going to be the case moving forward."
England find themselves 3-1 up with one to play despite a succession of batting collapses that continued at Southampton, where they slumped to 86 for six in their first innings.
But Root, who made 48 in England's second innings 271 after dropping down the order to number four from number three, said: "You've also got to be realistic about the conditions we've been playing in. I thought after being 80-odd for six on day one, to then go out and play in different but still difficult conditions in the second innings — and go about things how we did — was a start to a really significant improvement.”