Ben Stokes: ‘We didn’t have a chance in hell of even competing with India’

Ben Stokes chatting to Ben Duckett
Stokes has suffered the first series defeat of his captaincy - Getty Images/Gareth Copley

Ben Stokes praised England for going toe-to-toe with an India team they “didn’t have a chance in hell of even competing with”, but conceded they were simply out-skilled as they fell to their first series defeat under his captaincy.

Despite a brief scare thanks to Shoaib Bashir, India cruised to their target of 192 five wickets down to seal their third successive win and their 17th straight home series victory.

It meant that England lost the series with a game to spare, the first they have lost under Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum in their seventh full series in charge.

A defiant Stokes was proud of his team’s performance, however.

“3-1 doesn’t look great, but the way in which we’ve come at India is what I’m most proud of,” he said. “This young, inexperienced team has been successful over the past two years, but coming to India is a completely different beast, something that this team has not been exposed to.

“The way in which we have reacted to everything, even being on the wrong end of three results, is something I’m incredibly proud of. We didn’t have a chance in hell of even competing with India, but even today that wasn’t an easy win for India and I think they would admit that. I’m very proud of the way every player has thrown everything at India. No one has ever taken a backward step.”

‘Ruthlessness? What is it?’

England had been in total control of the fourth Test on the morning of day three, but a wasteful showing saw India stage an outstanding comeback, bowling the tourists out for just 145 in their second innings, with all 10 wickets falling to spin.

Stokes said England could not live with Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav’s quality, conceding that their skill in those conditions made it “nigh-on impossible” to play with their usual attacking verve, but denied they lacked ruthlessness.

“It’s always disappointing being on the losing team,” said Stokes. “Looking back at when we had our chance to bat yesterday, cricket is always skill against skill. Ashwin, Jadeja and Kuldeep and the conditions we found ourselves in against them was very, very challenging.

“When India have a sniff in conditions like that, any team is going to find it hard to not only keep the scoreboard ticking but rotate the strike. You’ve got to give them a lot of credit for the way in which they bowled in very favourable conditions. On this occasion, their skill was better than ours yesterday.

“When you’ve got three world-class spinners operating in conditions like that, you know you’re going to be up against it. That period yesterday after lunch was the game.

“Nothing is impossible, I wouldn’t say that. But it was nigh on impossible to operate how we wanted to.”

“Ruthlessness? What is it? How does it show itself? Everyone goes into the game with their best intentions, when it doesn’t pay off people say we’re not ruthless but when they do, they say we are. I don’t really understand the saying. That’s from my point of view; we try to do what we think is the best way to win the game. It can be a throwaway comment when people say we’re not ruthless enough. What does it mean?”

Stokes said James Anderson had a minor quad injury but that he only left the field on the fourth day as a precaution.

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