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England-India Series

Root wary of Anderson fitness for India finale


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Photo: AFP

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Joe Root said England must carefully manage James Anderson's workload as they try to avoid a series defeat by India in the fifth Test at Old Trafford starting Friday.

England great Anderson bowled 47 overs for just two wickets during a 157-run loss in the fourth Test at the Oval and sent down 33 overs during India's second innings alone, which lasted more than 11 hours.

The 39-year-old paceman's heavy workload after playing in four back-to-back Tests has prompted concern about his fitness and ability to lead England's attack at his Manchester home ground, with the hosts now 2-1 down in a five-match series.

And with a tour of Australia on the horizon, England will want the experience of Test cricket's most successful fast bowler when trying to regain the Ashes 'Down Under'.

"You have to weigh everything up and take everything into account to make sure physically he (Anderson) is in the right place and feels he can get through it," said England captain Root after Monday's emphatic reverse.

- 'Balancing act' -

"If he goes down injured, it leaves us in a difficult place for the rest of the game and for the winter," he added, with Anderson's career tally of 632 Test wickets third in the all-time list behind two retired spinners in Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan (800 Test wickets) and Australia's Shane Warne (708).

"Ultimately, we've got to find a way of winning -- it's a delicate balancing act."

England have seen fast bowlers Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood, Olly Stone and Chris Woakes all sidelined in recent times, although Woakes returned at the Oval.

Meanwhile, Craig Overton's availability for the fifth Test is now in doubt after he received a nasty blow to the arm when being dismissed by Umesh Yadav on Monday.

"It's been frustrating, the amount of injuries we've had to contend with. It's part and parcel of the game and the current climate we're living in," Root said.

"We have to make sure we're doing everything in the interest of the players and give ourselves the best chance of winning at the same time.

"It's been a tough summer. It's been a gruelling schedule, some wonderful cricket and highly intense cricket," he explained. 

"It's part and parcel of a Test match and something you've got to be able to manage."

Having lost 1-0 in a two-match series to World Test Championship winners New Zealand earlier in the season, Root is keen to avoid another similar defeat by India.

"It's going to be really important we bounce back very quickly just like we did a week ago," said Root, whose side recovered from a 151-run defeat by India in the second Test to win the third by an innings and 76 runs at his Headingley home ground. 

"We will make sure at Old Trafford we have got that bit between our teeth and bounce back."