Sri Lanka v England: Joe Root wants team to ‘set the trend’ in Tests

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Sri Lanka v England: Joe Root wants team to ‘set the trend’ in Tests
England lead 2-0 in the series with one match to play

Captain Joe Root says he wants his England team to “set the trend instead of following suit” after winning the Test series in Sri Lanka.

England completed a 57-run victory in the second Test on Sunday to take an unassailable 2-0 lead – their first series win in the country for 17 years.

The tourists have had a bold approach, both with team selection and the bat.

“We said we would play in a certain way and we have backed that up,” said Root. “That is the most pleasing thing.”

Before the series, Root said his side needed to be “bolder” and more “courageous” and England’s batsmen have looked to be aggressive on unfamiliar turning pitches.

England have selected three spinners – Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid and Jack Leach – meaning seam bowlers Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes have been left out, despite their excellent records in England.

England had not won an overseas series since 2016 and their hosts had only lost one of their previous six series at home.

“Test cricket is developing all the time,” Root told BBC Sport.

“We said we would come and play in a certain manner after other sides have come and played how they would play in their home conditions. We have done it many times before.

“It is time for us to try and set the trend instead of following suit.

“This was an opportunity to do that and it’s great to see it pay off so far on this trip.”

England were criticised on the opening day of the series when their aggressive batting led to them falling to 103-5 before lunch – but Root said that display actually had a positive effect.

“That gave us confidence,” he said.

“To come in at lunch and for that to be OK and to accept that it might not always go in our favour, I think that had a knock-on effect to how this game turned out.”

Broad and Bairstow a ‘big part’ of squad

Stuart Broad and Jonny Bairstow have been key members of the England team in recent years

As well as Broad – England’s second most successful bowler in Test cricket – wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow has also sat out the first two matches.

Bairstow was injured for the opener in Galle but his replacement, Ben Foakes, kept his place for the second Test after hitting a century on debut.

However, Root said both players remain a “big part” of the squad, adding: “I’d say it’s the same England team from the summer that is improving, adapting, learning and growing.

“It’s not about the 11 guys, it’s about the full squad – the work that they’ve done, the pressure they’re putting on the guys in the starting XI to keep improving.

“They’re driving the standards up all the time. Having that strength in depth has been a massive contributor to these wins.”

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