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Joe Root capitalises on India's Jasprit Bumrah blunder with perfect century

England batsman Joe Root in batting action during day one of the 4th Test Match against India
Joe Root seems to be reverting to type to lead England's Bazballers away from disaster - Getty Images/Gareth Copley

Brendon McCullum asked this week “do we want just a normal Joe Root?” Yes please, and that is exactly what England were thankful for as Root reverted to type and played one of his best innings to rescue the first day of the fourth Test.

It will have gladdened the hearts of England supporters to see Root playing like this and there cannot have been many more popular hundreds scored even in the highly entertaining Bazball era than this one.

It was also massive for his team because England will not win a series in India without a contribution from Root, and at 2-1 down after one of the heaviest defeats in Test history, and in deep trouble at lunch here, they needed this. Badly.

India resting Jasprit Bumrah feels like a massive blunder with the series still live. His absence eased Root’s anxiety. After all, part of the reason he played that reverse ramp was because he did not trust his defence to Bumrah and panicked.

Whether it was complacency, player power – there were rumours Bumrah didn’t want to play in Rajkot – or protecting a priceless player for the looming IPL, the decision worked hugely in England and Root’s favour.

McCullum’s Root comment was framed in response to the reverse ramp of Rajkot that plunged him into one of the lowest ebbs of his career. The coach’s point was that if playing the reverse ramp successfully unlocked another level to his batting then a great player would emerge even better.

One of the misconceptions of Bazball is that the coach is leaning on a player like Root to score quicker. In reality, he encourages players to be as positive as their natural game allows and will back them if they get out trying it. Root’s problem was that he had forgotten those principles last week.

Even a player of his experience will have been rattled by the savaging, although it did overshadow the fact he was moving better before the ramp. Root’s response, to score 106 at a strike rate of 43, his first hundred since the Edgbaston Ashes Test in June, and the slowest of the Bazball days, off 219 balls, was perfect.

It was not an angry riposte. He listened and took the criticism on board. No other player reached fifty, only the second time Root has scored a hundred without the support of a half century from someone else, which shows how he batted on a completely different plane to all the others as England closed on 302 for seven, a good total banked already on a tricksy pitch

He barely celebrated the hundred. He knew he owed his team after 77 runs in six innings. It is as if falling to the reverse ramp is a jolt to the senses he occasionally needs. When he was dismissed playing the shot in Mount Maunganui this time last year he responded with a hundred in Wellington. Then he scored just 36 from his first 100 balls and seven fours in his century. He admitted he “went too far on the spectrum” and thought the messaging for others was aimed at him.

He must have gone through a similar thought process over the past week for this was almost a complete copy of New Zealand. This time he had 48 off 100 balls, and nine fours in his century (two in his 90s) and looked so much better playing watchfully. He ran brilliantly between the wickets putting pressure on some donkey fielders, his footwork was exemplary and he resisted the sweep, only using it when bowlers strayed in line taking leg-before out of the equation making it a safer shot.

It is a relief for England because boy did they need him at lunch on 112 for five, Ben Stokes out to an ankle height grubber and the pitch living up to their doomsday predictions.

Root found a perfect foil in Ben Foakes, a player who is at his best when the team is in trouble and he can support a top-order batsman at the other end. Their 113-run stand is England’s highest of the series and from a five-wicket thriller in the morning session, the Test meandered along at 2.3 in a wicketless afternoon as the moisture evaporated and the ball softened making batting less fraught.

When Foakes chipped a catch to midwicket on 47 it could have opened up the tail to the reverse-swinging ball but first Tom Hartley and then Ollie Robinson, in his first innings for eight months, played sensibly to support Root to his hundred. Robinson added an unbroken 57 with Root as England scored 104 in the final session.

India lost two reviews trying to knock Root over before lunch recognising he was England’s last hope. But they only have themselves to blame. Debutant Ashak Deep, given the task of filling in for Bumrah, was superb with the new ball grabbing three for 23 in a spell he will never forget but imagine Bumrah bowling at his pace on a moist pitch with uneven bounce.

India also found a way to beat England in Vizag and Rajkot: produce a flat pitch, expose the limitations of the spinners and play on the Bazballers’ egos. Why then allow a poor, result pitch to be served up in Ranchi that has levelled the playing field?

Deep started superbly finding the cracks on a length and placing huge doubt in English minds. His first wicket was scrubbed off when he sent Zak Crawley’s off stump cartwheeling with a no ball but he did not have to wait long.

Ben Duckett edged behind a ball that seamed away late. Two balls later Ollie Pope was leg before a long way down the pitch. Crawley decided attack was the only defence and hit a run-a-ball 42 before Deep hit that off stump for a second time.

Jonny Bairstow was strutting again as he found the boundary, slog sweeping Ashwin for six and looking like his old self before missing a sweep.

In the circumstances it was an important 38 off 35 balls because starting an innings was so hard in the morning and it felt as though a wicket could fall every ball. Baristow’s little counterattack made India nervous.

The dismissal of Stokes to a shooter was ominous but it gradually turned into a situation tailor made for the normal Joe Root.


India vs England fourth Test, day one: as it happened


01:01 PM GMT

Boycott's verdict


11:22 AM GMT

Zak Crawley talks to BT Sport

I was trying to bat normally at the start but thought I had to throw a couple of punches.  It’s an unbelievably good feeling [to be reprieved by the no-ball siren after being clean bowled], to be given another chance. It’s etter than anything to be honest.

We’re chuffed for Rooty. We never doubted him. If he gets a couple of ‘lowies’ we just think he’s even more due. We fully expected him to go out and get runs in this game. He’s a pehenomenal player, one of, if not the greatest players England have ever had.

Those boys [Foakes and Root] batted unbelievably for that partnership and Robbo and Tommy as well. I said when I got out, late 200s/300 is a hell of a score and I stand by that. We’re ahead of the game.


11:02 AM GMT

OVER 90: ENG 302/7 (Root 106 Robinson 31)

Jaiswal starts with a drag down that Root slaps, but only for a single. After Robinson just keeps out a leg-break that threatens to spin back on to the stumps, he climbs into another long hop and cuffs it for four through midwicket to reach 300. From 112 for five that is a hell of a recovery.

Robinson cuts another short one for a single and Root wears the fifth on the pad but it pitched outside leg and lets the last one by.

England’s day. Terrific effort from Messrs Crawley, Bairstow, Foakes and Robinson on an at-times scary pitch but Root did even better, showing why most people think he is England’s greatest.


10:58 AM GMT

OVER 89: ENG 296/7 (Root 105 Robinson 26)

Robinson plays out Kuldeep’s maiden, covering some big turn. Jaiswal will bowl the final over of the day. A part-time leggie, he is delighted to be given the ball.

How to interpret this? Any number of ways. Probably not a jibe about their critics and the size of their Douglases?


10:54 AM GMT

OVER 88: ENG 296/7 (Root 105 Robinson 26)

Root again takes a single off the first ball, using the angle in to flick it for a single. Robinson is told to smell the leather off back-to-back bouncers but is let off the hook by a full, no-ball that he spanks through cover for four. Deep tries the inswinging yorker with the extra ball, doesn’t land it and Robinson skelps it for a single to the square leg sweeper.

Two overs to come.  Still no new ball. I suppose the reverse is still a potent weapon.


10:48 AM GMT

OVER 87: ENG 289/7 (Root 104 Robinson 21)

Kuldeep, under-bowled by his captain, is fit to continue. Root gets off strike first ball with a clip through midwicket and Robinson calmly defends four then mows a sweep six rows back in the stand at cow corner for six! It was overpitched and he used his reach to fetch it and smack it.


10:42 AM GMT

OVER 86: ENG 282/7 (Root 103 Robinson 15)

Fabulous stop from Kuldeep at fine leg, though a risky one as his knee planted in the turf. He turned a certain four into a two, shaving the return for Robinson’s flick off Deep in half. But at what price? He has banged his knee hard in the same way that Jack Leach did and cost him a flight home after one Test. He is staying on but is limping badly.

The off drive that brought up his 31st Test century summed up Root’s return to form. He did not preconceive it, he did not crunch it, he did not hammer it, he did not bash it, he did not belt, let alone Bazballed it. He stroked it. What he does better than any England batsman ever, surely, is strokeplay.


10:40 AM GMT

OVER 85: ENG 280/7 (Root 103 Robinson 13)

Kuldeep replaces Jadeja and Robinso carries on in his diligent fashion after paying no mind to being beaten by a slider, he regroups and works the next ball through midwicket for a single.


10:35 AM GMT

OVER 84: ENG 279/7 (Root 103 Robinson 12)

Root turns the inswinger off his pads for two but is pinned by another huge on that did too much. Deep beseeches Rod Tucker but he shakes his head. Root was falling over, the degree of swing saving him as the ball would have missed leg stump by 10cm or more.

Root tucks two off his hip to move to 99, haring back for the second, defends the next, nose over the ball and brings up his 31st Test century with a handsome off-drive for four.

Absolutely magnificent. Some will say Root answered his critics. His critics will say he answered them by taking their advice. So it’s win-win.


10:31 AM GMT

OVER 83: ENG 271/7 (Root 95 Robinson 12)

Jadeja has a silly mid-off for Robinson who blocks two, clears his front leg to biff a four between non-striker and mid-off with a woodcutter’s power, and then blocks the last three. Great No 9 batting this.


10:29 AM GMT

OVER 82: ENG 267/7 (Root 95 Robinson 8)

Root moves into the nineties when he flicks Deep’s big inswinger with the old ball for four. Root thought he’d closed the face too soon and looked to cover because he thought he had got it away with a leading edge but in fact his connection was perfectly fine. Root flicks another inswinger through midwicket for two and leaves Robinson on strike to Jadeja.

Joe Root takes his helmet off
Root has played a chanceless innings so far to move to 95 - Gareth Copley/Getty Images

10:25 AM GMT

OVER 81: ENG 261/7 (Root 89 Robinson 8)

Rohit resumes the captaincy after three overs off the field when Ashwin deputises and sticks with the old ball. Jadeja is taken for a single through cover by Root but then goes berserk in his appeal when he angles one in from riund the wicket and turns it away to beat the bat and clip the pad. India have burned their reviews so have no recourse to DRS. He also received a warning for straying on to the line of the stumps.

Some sympathy for Jadeja as the ball would have hit halfway up middle and there was no edge, as Kumar Dharmasena must have thought.


10:20 AM GMT

OVER 80: ENG 260/7 (Root 88 Robinson 8)

Siraj will have another. Deep is getting loose which must mean he and Ashwin, old leather hands who loves a hard ball, will take the new pill. Root uses the inswing to skim a single down to fine leg.

Robinson turns on the turbo to come back for two off the final ball and let Root keep the strike after a choppy/dab.


10:16 AM GMT

OVER 79: ENG 257/7 (Root 87 Robinson 6)

Robbo seems OK. He ruffles his own bleached hair and plonks the helmet back on. Just the single for Root with a push through civer and Robinson tries but cannot beat the onside infield on three occasions off Jadeja.


10:12 AM GMT

OVER 78: ENG 256/7 (Root 86 Robinson 6)

A sixth successive over for Siraj who has taken two for none in the first five of this spell. Root defends two off the front foot then clumps the low full toss through cover for a single, cursing that he couldn’t evade the sweeper to claim at least two. Robinson opens the face to slice a single behind point and Root drills a lovely drive for two, a fine stop by Patidar saving the boundary.

Root wants the strike and gets their hairily with a flick straight to midwicket but he beats the throw. Robinson calls on the physio for something. Tablets rather than something more concerning.

Yes, we can talk about Joe Root’s batting in terms of art when he is at his best. Earlier in this series he was Rembrandt trying to be Picasso. In this innings he has been content to paint another of his self-portrait masterpieces.


10:04 AM GMT

OVER 77: ENG 251/7 (Root 82 Robinson 5)

Jadeja replaces Ashwin and he slips out a high full toss that Robinson swats for four to add to the return off the no-ball. Jadeja apologises. But it’s the only damage off Jadeja’s 24th over. On come the drinks with England at 250 which Messrs Swann, Dasgupta, Manjrekar, Gavaskar, Shastri, Karthik and Knight thought was par at 5am.


10:01 AM GMT

OVER 76: ENG 246/7 (Root 82 Robinson 1)

Absolute snorter from Siraj does for Hartley the ball after the left-hander had squirted four through the slips. Too good for thee, Lanky lad. Enter Ollie Robinson for his first cricket of any stripe since July 9! And he hasn’t been injured. But, good for him, he is alert and skilfull enough to get his bat down on the big hooping inswinger and save himself with an inside edge. Two balls later he gets off the mark with a flick through midwicket for a single.


09:55 AM GMT

Wicket!

Hartley b Siraj 13 The previous ball was an outswinger that Hartley nicked with soft hands short of slip for four. This one angle sin from around the wicket, pitches on off and middle then nibbles past the edge to crash into off stump. Fine bowling.  FOW 245/7


09:55 AM GMT

OVER 75: ENG 241/6 (Root 82 Hartley 9)

Hartley slaps a single off Ashwin to mid-off, hit too well in normal circs to run but a misfield by Deep makes a gift of a single and earns him a glare.


09:53 AM GMT

OVER 74: ENG 240/6 (Root 82 Hartley 8)

Another over pre-new ball over for Siray with the old pill. And Rohit must betempted to give him another because he delivers six inswingers to earn a maiden and almost sneaks one through Root’s gate, denied by a thick inside edge by virtue of Root’s fast hands.


09:48 AM GMT

OVER 73: ENG 240/6 (Root 82 Hartley 8)

Hartley has a wonderful ability to play lofted drives from down the track with a big swing that takes the bat from the perpendicular all the way round again. Ashwin has to crane his neck to watch it disappear for six but thinks he has had the last laugh next ball, only to be thwarted by DRS.


09:44 AM GMT

NOT OUT

He hit it.


09:44 AM GMT

ENG review

Hartley lbw b Ashwin  Took an age for the finger to go up. Missing leg? He was quiet deep in his crease.


09:43 AM GMT

OVER 72: ENG 233/6 (Root 81 Hartley 2)

Root uses the inswing to help the ball on its way behind square leg for a single and Hartley plays tip and run to cover. Root clips the ball into the infield and steals a single. He’s motoring nicely. As well as those 30 hundreds, Root has 16 scores between 80 and 99, the same as Mike Atherton, one record he won’t want to break today.


09:38 AM GMT

OVER 71: ENG 230/6 (Root 79 Hartley 1)

There’s the evidence that Root might attack now, reverse-sweeping for the first time in the innings. He doesn’t collar it but gets it away for two nonetheless. An off-drive erans him another single off Ashwin and Hartley carries on, repressing his instincts, putting the boot on the throat of his own song, by cosplaying Brigadier Block.

Rohit congratulates Siraj
Rohit lets Siraj out of the doghouse and the leader of the attack rewards his captain by breaking a century partnership - AUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP via Getty Images

09:32 AM GMT

OVER 70: ENG 227/6 (Root 76 Hartley 1)

Siraj continues round the wicket to the left-hnded Hartley, reverse-swinging it late at 86mph, moving the ball both ways, the outswinger, in particular, hooping. But Hartley survives even though he plays and misses and has to hurriedly chisel out the yorker. Will Root counter against the spinners or bide his time?


09:29 AM GMT

OVER 69: ENG 227/6 (Root 76 Hartley 1)

No doubt Foakes’ approach changed after tea, trying to seize the initiative after so diligently digging the foundations in the afternoon session. He can’t be blamed for that. The new ball was a nightmare to face this morning and it’s understandable that he wanted to make hay before the second new ball became available.


09:25 AM GMT

OVER 68: ENG 225/6 (Root 75 Hartley 0)

Siraj returns and takes Foakes’s scalp with reverse swing. Foakes’ shot was the correct one but he hadn’t bargained for it tailing in quite so much and Jadeja is the best outfielder in this series, if not the world.


09:21 AM GMT

Wicket!

Foakes c Jadeja b Siraj 47  Chips it to midwicket after accelerating in the previous over. Thus ends his second hundred partnership of the series, 113 for the sixth wicket. England would have ripped your hand off for 225/6 at lunch. Excellent knock despite the slightly tame ending.  FOW 225/6


09:18 AM GMT

OVER 67: ENG 224/5 (Root 74 Foakes 47)

Pretty special from Foakes to bring up the hundred partnership with a shimmy down and a lofted drive over wide mid-on for six. He then unfurls the sweep and even though the ball stays low he scrapes it off the toe for four. Next ball lands on middle and off and Foakes nails his slog sweep for four. Ashwin can claim a moral victory when he deceives Foakes in th flight as the Surrey man skips down but he still manages to squeeze/slice his drive through third man for two.


09:15 AM GMT

OVER 66 ENG 208/5 (Root 74 Foakes 31)

Jadeja reels through a maiden in 90 seconds. We’ll have more than 90 overs at 11am at this rate.


09:14 AM GMT

OVER 65 ENG 208/5 (Root 74 Foakes 31)

Ashwin enters the realm of experimentation with a few Rootish flourishes, going wider on the crease from round the wicket and trying out a slinger but no breakthrough and England keep rolling with a single apiece, Foakes’ driven through the offside, Root’s flicked to leg. The partnership is now 96.


09:11 AM GMT

OVER 64 ENG 206/5 (Root 73 Foakes 30)

Root is seeing it like the proverboal beach ball now and hangs deep for a Jadeja dart and drills it through cover for a single. Foakes gorges on the shorter one, well gorges modestly. Foakes is a Jack Sprat rather than a Mrs Sprat, carving it for a single.


09:09 AM GMT

OVER 63 ENG 204/5 (Root 72 Foakes 29)

Root shuffles back to Ashwin and is almost undone by one that keeps low but keeps it out with the toe of the bat as he tried to force it behind square on the offside. The next ball is a fraction overpitched and Root closes the face to flick it through midwicket for a single. Foakes’ footwork has been skilfully deployed today and he chasses dpwn to flip a single through square leg. Another legside flick earns Root two with the help of a misfield and then he plays a strike rotating pat through cover to make it five off the over.


09:04 AM GMT

OVER 62 ENG 199/5 (Root 68 Foakes 28)

We might finish on time for once, today. Jadeja resumes after tea, coming round the wicke. Root defends a couple then clips a single through the offside. Foakes defends off the back and front foot as Jadeja varies the flight.


08:46 AM GMT

Tea verdict: Just what the doctor ordered

As England took lunch on 112 for five, with the memory of Ben Stokes’s shooter, the idea of a wicketless second session seemed absurd.

But that is what we have. It is all the more remarkable given there were 36 overs bowled, a heady number in this day and age.

Joe Root and Ben Foakes have batted beautifully, and the conditions have eased a touch. There are still a few spitting up or shooting on, but it feels like the sort of wicket that is livelier in he morning – where there is a bit of moisture in the pitch – and the ball is newer. By slowing the game down, even a clatter of wickets in the evening should mean England have a newish ball tomorrow morning.

Root and Foakes have taken no risks. They have shared the slowest 50 partnership of the Bazball era (breaking their own record, against New Zealand in 2022), and Root has its fourth-slowest half-century. It might not be what we have become used to from England, but it is just what the doctor ordered.

Root has used the depth of his crease expertly, and increasingly picked off the bad balls. India have fielded poorly and, without Bumrah, lack a bit of old ball magic. Akash Deep bowled brilliantly this morning, but looked flatter in the afternoon.


08:43 AM GMT

OVER 61 ENG 198/5 (Root 67 Foakes 28)

Root works a single into the legside and that will be TEA. That’s the first time England have survived a session on tour without losing a wicket. Foakes and Root have put on 86 so far for the sixth wicket and India now have no reviews left. Fantastic partnership from England, shrewdly accumulated by the two most traditional stylists.


08:41 AM GMT

OVER 60: ENG 197/5 (Root 66 Foakes 28)

I have done a disservice to Jurel. He was arguing that it was missing, despite his extravagant appeal, and Jadeja thought it was kissing leg and would have been at worst Umpire’s Call. Maiden for Jadeja ... but not a wicket maiden.


08:39 AM GMT

OVER 59: ENG 197/5 (Root 66 Foakes 28)

Ashwin shoots a pea-roller under Foakes’ bat and England jog a bye. Two balls later Ashwin gets one to spit up and smack Root on the glove and pop into the offside, safe.

Terribly unbecoming to name drop your own book but anyway…when I wrote Bazball The Inside Story last year with Lawrence Booth we spoke to Joe Root about the reverse ramp. Specifically we asked about his mindset after falling to the shot in Mount Maunganui, sparking concerns about his batting in the Bazball era, and scoring a watchful hundred in the next game. “I was so desperate to buy into what we were trying to do, I went away from the stuff I had done really well. I went too far on the spectrum instead of understanding how the message might apply more to the guys around me than it necessarily did to me.” Seems like he has gone through the same thought process over the past week.


08:37 AM GMT

NOT OUT

India burn their last review. Jadeja said it was missing leg but the keeper was adamant, pumping his fists in his appeal and persuaded the captain who looks as if he’s swallowed a wasp when watching ball-tracking on the biog screen.


08:36 AM GMT

IND review

Foakes lbw b Jadeja  Looked like it was going down leg.


08:35 AM GMT

OVER 58: ENG 196/5 (Root 66 Foakes 28)

The longer this innings goes on, the harder Foakes’ hands have become and he inside-edges into his pads tos end the ball at catchable height through short leg, if one had been posted. He prods a single through point then Root crouches deep into his crease to lace four behind point with his trademark stroke. His wagon wheels in big innings always have one thicker spoke through third man.


08:32 AM GMT

OVER 57: ENG 191/5 (Root 62 Foakes 27)

Bit Root will not be tied down for long. After Foakes works Ashwin off his laces for a single, Root hammers a back-foot punch for four when Ashwin drops short. It’s only his sixth boundary of his innings. But who cares? The partnership builds to 79.

Joe Root
Root makes his 91st score of 50 or more for England in Tests, a record, overhauling Alastair Cook's 90 - AP Photo/Ajit Solanki

08:27 AM GMT

OVER 56: ENG 186/5 (Root 58 Foakes 26)

And Jadeja, indeed, rattles through a maiden with an impeccable line to Root.


08:26 AM GMT

OVER 55: ENG 186/5 (Root 58 Foakes 26)

Having failed to beat Gill at midwicket with his previous flick, Foakes dows so this time and bustles down for a single. Root opens the face to dab Ashwin for a single through third man. Jadeja is coming back to give the Amalgamated Union of Cricket Bloggers and Bottle Washers repetitive strain injury.


08:21 AM GMT

OVER 54: ENG 184/5 (Root 57 Foakes 25)

Glorious stroke from Root, caressing a cover drive for four off Kuldeep, more of a tap than a thump, timing the pants off it. Ashwin plods after it and pulls it back but not without his boot grazing the rope. Rohit adopts the double teapot.


08:19 AM GMT

OVER 53: ENG 180/5 (Root 53 Foakes 25)

Yikes – Foakes saves Root from himself by sending him back when he wanted a ridiculously tight single to midwicket. Foakes, like all keepers, can generate a lot of volume and bellowed ‘No! No!’ at the senior partner, sending him scuttling sheepishly back into his hutch. When Root places a similar shot wide of midwicket’s right hand, they run a far more wholesome single.


08:16 AM GMT

OVER 52: ENG 179/5 (Root 52 Foakes 25)

Root works Kuldeep off the front foot through midwicket for a single. Root’s smile is back and is as busy as Arthur Askey’s bee. There’s one for the teenagers.

Hasn’t it been a superlative 50 by Joe Root? Batting would have been so much easier on the Rajkot pitch but he has got back into the right frame of mind that England need at last. The master is back, whatever happens from now.


08:13 AM GMT

OVER 51: ENG 178/5 (Root 51 Foakes 25)

Having passed 50, Root indulges himself with a sweep but ought to out it away again now as he bottom edges it into the keeper’s boot. ‘Another dropped chance!’ quips Graeme Swann who has ditched TMS for a gig on the circuit and has proved very popular in India on the IPL feeds. India have already bowled more overs in 90 minutes of this session than they did in 120 of the first. Bumble will be beaming. Two singles off the over, each through the legside off Ashwin.

Nick spoke to Blur alumnus Simon Finch here


08:08 AM GMT

OVER 50: ENG 176/5 (Root 50 Foakes 24)

He cannot rest on his laurels, though, as Kuldeep gets one to keep low and turn back in as Root played back, hurried into the shot by the lack of bounce.


08:07 AM GMT

OVER 49: ENG 176/5 (Root 50 Foakes 24)

Fifty for Joe Root, his 61st in Tests to go with 30 centuries and his first on tour. It’s his 20th score of 50 or more against india. He brought it up off the returning Ashwin by whisking the fuller one off his bootlaces for a single. Foakes uses his feet to hit Ashwin back from round the wicket through mid-on for a single.

Joe Root
Joe Root en route to his first 50 of the tour - REUTERS/Amit Dave

08:01 AM GMT

OVER 48: ENG 174/5 (Root 49 Foakes 23)

Root is robbed of a fifty when he tickles two fine off his legs and it’s given as leg-byes. The ball hit Jurel’s glove as he follwoed it down the legside but he would have needed a Venus fly-trap in his palm to snaffle that one. Kuldeep, still, isn’t happy. Root works one square to move to 49 and tells Rod Tucker he’s cost him two runs.

This has been a fine partnership from Root and Foakes, and not just because they have added more than 50 valuable runs. This might be one of those pitches where the ball does more when it’s harder, and early in the morning. The longer England can wait until they’re bowling, the better the bowling conditions they will have.


07:58 AM GMT

OVER 47: ENG 170/5 (Root 48 Foakes 22)

Root inches towards a half-century with a flick off the hip for a single and Foakes pounces on a wider ball that tails in and creams it for four through cover. Reverse swing, it seems. Foakes hasn’t always cashed in off the bad balls on this tour but is batting very fluently here and pulls the shorter one, though fails to beat midwicket.


07:53 AM GMT

OVER 46: ENG 165/5 (Root 47 Foakes 18)

Maiden for Kuldeep to Foakes. Sanjay Manjrekar thinks Kuldeep is bowling from the wrong end. Foakes keeps him out with positive blocks and, I think, picks the googly.


07:50 AM GMT

OVER 45: ENG 165/5 (Root 47 Foakes 18)

Classic Root, playing his signature stroke, to dab a nip-backer from Deep down through third man for four. As Ravi Shastri says: “No scoops, no sweeps.” He is batting a foot outside his crease to Deep, which should hinder his ability to dab/late cut/ back cut but his hands and brain are so quick.


07:43 AM GMT

OVER 44: ENG 161/5 (Root 43 Foakes 18)

Justice for Foakes – he does get his boundary in this over. shuffling down to place his drive expertly past Root and the stumps for four. Kuldeep runs his fingers through his curly, inky mop of hair.

Drinks! These two have played very well to put on 49 in an hour.


07:40 AM GMT

OVER 43: ENG 156/5 (Root 42 Foakes 14)

Deep duly hits the crack and gets one to climb and jag back in to Foakes, striking him on the back thigh pad. the ball balloons and then dips through second slip, scuttling under Jaiswal’s dive and running down for four leg-byes. Deep is using the crease well to vary the point of delivery, and varying his lengths.

Running with Tim’s point, below. Foakes, contrary to perception, averages slightly more in his first innings than his second in his Test career. It’s a marginal difference of only half a run but it would be unfair to dub him, a la Ian Chappell, a ‘Second-innings Sid’.

And he’s denied a boundary by the non-striker’s stumps when he lamps a lovely straight drive off Deep.


07:34 AM GMT

OVER 42: ENG 151/5 (Root 41 Foakes 14)

Good start from Kuldeep. He’s on average about 10kph slower than Jadeja but Root smothers the spin and turn and then whisks a single off his toes.

Deep is switiching ends, to try to hit the cracks that Siraj peppered in his opening spell.

Really big opportunity for Ben Foakes, this. His batting average dipped below 30 after the last Test, an uncomfortable place for a keeper in the post Adam Gilchrist age; in his seventh Test in India, he’s only averaging 18 here. While he’s batting alongside Joe Root – the two designated drivers in the side, at least in this mood – Foakes can play at his normal tempo. That will be harder if he’s batting with the tail, which is longer today in the absence of Rehan Ahmed.

Ben Foakes
Ben Foakes defends with low hands - TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP via Getty Images

07:30 AM GMT

OVER 41: ENG 150/5 (Root 40 Foakes 14)

Maiden for Jadeja to Foakes. Where’s Kuldeep? Ah, here he comes. He always seems to be on Rohit’s naught step, too. Jadeja varied his pace by 7 kph in that over but Foakes covered it nicely.


07:29 AM GMT

OVER 40: ENG 150/5 (Root 40 Foakes 14)

Foakes uses Deep’s width to smear two square of point then brings up England’s 150 by using the angle in to him from over the wicket to tuck it through square leg for a single. Conditions have certainly eased, 40 minutes of sun on the pitch at lunch and the ageing of the ball have helped. Nonetheless, these two have batted shrewdly and skilfully to put on 38.


07:23 AM GMT

OVER 39: ENG 147/5 (Root 40 Foakes 11)

Jadeja beats Foakes with the classical left-armer’s off-break and then kisses the edge as Foakes judiciously plays with soft and low hands to chip a single wide of slip.


07:21 AM GMT

OVER 38: ENG 146/5 (Root 40 Foakes 10)

Great stroke by Root, opening the face to cream a square drive off Deep through cover for four the ball after he worked two through midwicket. The older ball has lost its spring in the bounce.

We don’t know if Root was given a life by Joel Wilson’s call as third umpire when he judged he’d hit it when there seemed to be a gap because we never got to ball-tracking. But if he did, it is already proving costly for India.


07:17 AM GMT

OVER 37: ENG 137/5 (Root 33 Foakes 9)

Jadeja is having a long spell for someone who missed the second Test with a hamstring injury. But he racks up five dot balls and Root takes only a single, eased through cover.


07:16 AM GMT

On Joel Wilson's work on India's review of Joe Root's leg-before call


07:13 AM GMT

OVER 36: ENG 137/5 (Root 32 Foakes 9)

Deep strays on to Foakes’ pads and he flicks itthrough midwicket, Siraj’s misfield doubling his return from a single to two. Poor Siraj is Rohit’s bete noir today, receiving a Medusa-stare from his skipper, forgetting his own misfield off Siraj’s bowling earlier. Foakes defends stoutly to deliveries that angle in and bounce from over the wicket but is almost beaten by one that jags back in more extravagantly, saved by an inside edge.


07:10 AM GMT

OVER 35: ENG 135/5 (Root 32 Foakes 7)

Root plays out Jadeja’s third maiden in this 14-over spell all off the reel, though he did have a breather at lunch. He plays it out busily, though, positive in defence and looking for gaps when he can be more expansive.

Time for another Deep spell. One day you’re going to have to face a Deep, dark, truthful mirror.

It’s been a remarkable 27 minutes since lunch - and not just because we have not seen any wickets! India have rattled through 11 overs. Unheard of! Things will slow down now, because Deep is coming on.


07:06 AM GMT

OVER 34: ENG 135/5 (Root 32 Foakes 7)

Root defends the first four from Ashwin, and then exploits a slight error in length to work two through midwicket when the off-spinner goes too full. Root then adds a single to his score with a tuck around the corner to farm the strike.


07:03 AM GMT

OVER 33: ENG 132/5 (Root 29 Foakes 7)

Root has eschewed the sweep all innings, using his feet instead. He drills a single off the back foot for a single and Foakes plays the next five nicely, defensively, holding his end up.


07:01 AM GMT

OVER 32: ENG 131/5 (Root 29 Foakes 7)

Foakes works an overpitched off-break from Ashwin through midwicket as the spinner stays round the sicker and Root cuffs him off the back foot behind square leg.

Ashwin’s 100th wicket against England is complemented by 1,000 runs against the same opponent, too. Hell of an achievement that – 1085 runs at 35 dead and 100 wickets at 29.60 in 23 matches.


06:58 AM GMT

OVER 31: ENG 129/5 (Root 27 Foakes 6)

Root plays out Jadeja’s testing maiden. That’s six overs in 17 minutes since lunch.

Joe Root chops the ball
Joe Root employs his best in class dab - Gareth Copley/Getty Images

06:55 AM GMT

OVER 30: ENG 129/5 (Root 27 Foakes 6)

Ashwin drags one down a touch and Root slaps it through cover for two. The off-spinner overcompensates and errs too full and Root picks him off through midwicket by closing the face for two more. Ashwin darts the next one in but Root’s dab is stopped by short third, placed there for that stroke and the reverse but he eludes him for a single with anothey dab next ball.


06:52 AM GMT

OVER 29: ENG 124/5 (Root 22 Foakes 6)

No peace for the wicked. Jadeja races thrugh another over. Root presses a single through cover and Foakes plays out four dot balls, three riskily on the back foot.


06:49 AM GMT

OVER 28: ENG 123/5 (Root 21 Foakes 6)

Root still trusts the pitch at the end from which Ashwin is bowling to play on the back foot and chops a single between third man and point. Ashwin overpitches to Foakes who leg-drives it for a single through midwicket. ‘Leg-drives’! All our yesterdays.


06:47 AM GMT

OVER 27 ENG 120/5 (Root 20 Foakes 4)

India are rattling through the overs, trying to scramble England’s minds and there’s some evidence it’s working when Foakes takes a very tight single to mid-off and beats Siraj’s throw. Jadeja grabs the ball after each dot, spins on his heel and comes racing back in. The fielders are running at the end of each over rathe than walking to keep the sense of suffocation going.


06:45 AM GMT

OVER 26 ENG 118/5 (Root 19 Foakes 3)

But Root does continue to play back, at least to Ashwin bowling from the other end, dabbing two down to third man and working a single down to fine leg. Foakes also uses the angle and turn in from round the wicket to claw a single into the legside.


06:43 AM GMT

OVER 25: ENG 114/5 (Root 16 Foakes 2)

Even Shastri and Gavaskar are saying 250 is a winning first-innings score on this pitch. Foakes completes Jadeja’s over 45 minutes after it began with a two flicked off his boots. After that shooter, playing back is not an option any more.


06:13 AM GMT

Lunch verdict

England’s suspicions about the pitch came true in stunning fashion in the first session of the fourth test with five wickets falling.

Ben Stokes was leg before to a pea roller from Jadeja that brought an early lunch on a morning owned by India debutant Akash Deep. His three for 24 rocked England with the ball zipping around off the cracks and making batting a hard task.

To see a grubber before lunch on day one shows this is going to be a lottery as the match wears on. Somehow England need to scramble together 220 which feels a long way off at 112 for five. Good news is Joe Root is playing well, batting carefully (no ramps) and India have lost two reviews trying to move him on.

Joe Root
Joe Root carries England's last hopes - TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP via Getty Images

Deep lost his first Test wicket when he was no-balled bowling Zak Crawley, who recognised he had to chance his arm with a ball with his name on it never far away. Three fours and a six in consecutive balls off Mohammad Siraj signalled intent.

Deep nicked off Ben Duckett for his first wicket, and two balls later had Ollie Pope leg before. Pope had advanced down the pitch to try and take the seam movement out of the equation and it was one of those Hawkeye lbws that would never have been considered before DRS came along.

After the drinks break, Deep hit Crawley’s off stump again for the second time. Jonny Bairstow played an aggressive cameo, slog sweeping Ashwin for six adding 50 at almost a run a ball with Root, but when he tried to sweep a straighter ball pitched on the stumps, he missed and was leg before.

Stokes did not even bother to look at the umpire. He turned on his heels when hit on the pad in front and shook his head. Before the Test he said he had never seen a pitch like this one before. Now England need to avoid a total collapse and learn from India bowling at the stumps.


06:00 AM GMT

LUNCH: ENG 112/5

India’s session but the pitch has been the star of the show. England did what they could but on this minefield have come up short, losing two wickets more than the ideal.

They’re under the cosh now but their seam bowlers can also make hay on this.

I didn’t think this game would make day four having seen the pictures of the pitch. Now, having seen it play, I’m not sure it will make a third day.


05:59 AM GMT

Wicket!

Stokes lbw b Jadeja  Big grin from England’s captain as he is pinned by a shooter. Nowt he could do about it really. It hit him on the ankle.  FOW 112/5


05:57 AM GMT

OVER 24: ENG 112/4 (Root 16 Stokes 3)

Stokes has the right idea, milking a single off the first ball for the second, successive over but this time Root plays out five with no drama. Should be one more for Jadeja before the safe harbour of lunch.


05:56 AM GMT

OVER 23: ENG 111/4 (Root 16 Stokes 2)

Stokes uses the turn into the left-hander to whisk a single to reach Nelson! Root survives a leg-before scare, grinning a wee bit smugly because he must have been convinced he hit it. Horrible few minutes before lunch against the spinners for England’s best/last hope.


05:53 AM GMT

NOT OUT

Bat first. India lose their second review.


05:52 AM GMT

India review

Root lbw b Jadeja  Arm ball. Did he nick it?


05:51 AM GMT

OVER 22: ENG 110/4 (Root 16 Stokes 1)

In spite of three early wickets, had England made it to lunch three down on this pitch they would have been pleased with their morning’s work. As Sir Alastair Cook says, this is a 250 pitch. Now, he says, if they get there four down, it will be closer to parity. Given Foakes’ first-innings struggles and that long tail, I’m not so sure.

Before he was pinned to give Ashwin his 100th Test wicket against England, Bairstow had scythed four in front of point.

Stokes gets off the mark with a push through cover.


05:46 AM GMT

Wicket!

Bairstow lbw b Ashwin 38  The umpire must have thought he hit it, but it was fresh air. Premeditated sweep to one that pitched on middle and leg from round the wicket and wouldn have gone on to hit off stump.  FOW 109/4


05:45 AM GMT

IND review

Bairstow lbw b Ashwin  On the sweep. Hit on the back thigh


05:45 AM GMT

OVER 21: ENG 105/3 (Root 16 Bairstow 34)

Jadeja is ragging those hard-spun off-breaks past the right-handers’ outside edges. One whistles past Bairstow’s forward defensive and, two balls later, Root is left floundering when he tried to cover off stump. He’s turning it off off and middle.

Root cashes in, though, when Jadeja drops short and Root fillets a cut for four.


05:40 AM GMT

OVER 20: ENG 100/3 (Root 12 Bairstow 33)

Bairstow swats two off Ashwin through the legside, exchanges legside singles with his boyhood pal, and then slog sweeps the great off-spinner for six. He went after it because Ashwin gave it plenty of flight. Now Ashwin comes round the wicket and Bairstow skips over to off stump to drive a single through mid-on that brings up England’s hundred.

Despite their troubles, England are still going at five an over.

That deep silly point, so to speak, for Ravi Jadeja looks like a clever position. He’s standing four or five paces from the bat and can not only catch the bat-pad chance but block the reverse-sweep with an outside chance of catching one.


05:37 AM GMT

OVER 19: ENG 89/3 (Root 11 Bairstow 23)

Root clips a single into the offside, Bairstow drives for another and Root makes Rohit give his head a shake when he plays an exquisite late cut for four.

Time for Ashwin. Siraj always gets hooked after conceding a couple of boundaries. It’s as if Rohit doesn’t really trust him. Stokes would give him another over.


05:34 AM GMT

OVER 18: ENG 83/3 (Root 6 Bairstow 22)

The Tykes exchange singles into the onside, Root’s off the middle, Jonny’s off an inside edge but then York trumps Sheffield with a drilled drive through Rohit’s hands at mid-off followed by a murderously powerful, slogged on-drive for four that could have decapitated Root, and a fierce but sweetly timed extra-cover drive for another. Siraj may have provoked that at the start of the over by feigning to throw the ball at the striker’s stumps after a defensive.


05:29 AM GMT

OVER 17: ENG 71/3 (Root 5 Bairstow 11)

Bairstow and Root average 50 in their 59 Test partnerships, with 12 centuries. How England could do with a 13th today.

Big turn for Jadeja to Root, ragging one past the edge as Root hopped back. Two self-consciously orthodox forward defensives, angling the bat very low, nose over the ball, smother the turn. Maiden.

Akash Deep
Akash Deep had a dream debut spell - TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP via Getty Images

05:24 AM GMT

OVER 16: ENG 71/3 (Root 5 Bairstow 11)

Someone moving above the sightscreen causes Bairstow to pull away twice as Siraj reached his delivery stride which doesn’t go down well with India. The right-hander carves four wide of the slips but almost – see Scyld – drags on when going for the encore off Siraj. The ball cannons into his pads rather than scooting on to the pads. The thickness off the edge saved him there.


05:20 AM GMT

OVER 15: ENG 67/3 (Root 5 Bairstow 7)

Nice shot from Bairstow to smear two down to the point sweeper but this pitch is a horror to bat on against spin and seam alike. Jadeja drifts one in from round the wicket that pitches on off, grips, rips and bounces past Bairstow’s edge as he fended forward. Bairstow sweeps for a single and will face Siraj next over as Deep is given a breather after a debut spell for the ages.


05:17 AM GMT

OVER 14: ENG 64/3 (Root 5 Bairstow 4)

Root, who has changed his bat, takes a big stride out to Deep and works the ball away off an inside edge behind square leg. Bairstow pulls the short one for two then glides a single down through point. Deep ends his seventh over with a bouncer that flies past Root’s chest outside off as he leans away.

That was an incredible first hour, more happened than during entire days of Test cricket on previous tours to India. Akash Deep hit Zak Crawley’s off stump twice, keeping his foot behind the line the second time for his third wicket of the morning. Deep knocked over Duckett and Pope in three balls and is enjoying an incredible debut, showing no nerves in replacing Bumrah. He has hit the crack, nipping the ball back to the right hander. That crack on a length is why England picked Anderson when he was expected to rest.


05:12 AM GMT

OVER 13 ENG 60/3 (Root 4 Bairstow 1)

YJB is beaten by one that scuttles low under his bat as he tried to cut Jadeja but he opens the face to smack a single through cover off the next ball to get off the mark. Root beats cover for a single and whisks another through midwicket.

Deep is staying on for a seventh over.


05:10 AM GMT

OVER 12 ENG 57/3 (Root 2 Bairstow 0)

Enter Jonny Bairstow and if anyone is vulnerable to being gated by a nip-backer ... How many overs has Deep left in the tank this morning? But Bairstow solidly blocks the last ball of the over after a delay for drinks.

The debutant has bowled magnificently but started the over with a no-ball that raised some doubt when he castled Crawley for the second time.


05:03 AM GMT

Wicket!

Crawley b Deep 42  Nips back six inches and crashes into the top of off. There’s a pause while we wait for the no-ball ... but this time he was on the right side of the line.  FOW 57/3

Genuinely breathless stuff this morning, especially while the debutant Akash Deep has been bowling. He’s removed England’s top three, including Crawley twice. And they are in a bit of bother. Or Deep Trouble, if you like.


05:02 AM GMT

OVER 11: ENG 50/2 (Crawley 37 Root 1)

Root gets off the mark by easing Jadeja between midwicket and mid-on for a single. Crawley pushes a pair of singles into the offside.

If this pitch carries on playing like this, Ollie Robinson will be a handful. We could be in a 200 v 200 situation.


05:00 AM GMT

OVER 10: ENG 47/2 (Crawley 34 Root 0)

Blimey! What a difference an ober makes. No Bumrah; no problem. The debutant has bowled beautifully, the no-balls apart, wobbling the seam, moving it both ways, using the uneven bounce devastatingly when combined with swing and seam.


04:54 AM GMT

NOT OUT

Pitched outside off. Hearts in mouth all round.


04:53 AM GMT

IND review

Root lbw b Deep  


04:50 AM GMT

Wicket!!

Pope lbw b Deep 0  Looked too high to the naked eye but Pope’s feet were on the ground when pinned by the nip-backer and he’s out second ball for a duck. Trimming the top of leg even though he was a yard out of his crease. Looked a banker not out.  FOW 47/2


04:49 AM GMT

India review

Pope lbw b Deep Height? Nipped back and hit him on the top half of the knee roll. No bat.


04:46 AM GMT

Wicket!

Duckett c Jurel b Deep 11 Ah, that’s a beauty from round the wicket, angling in and nibbling away off the seam. Duckett pushed forward and nicked off to the keeper. Fine length.  FOW 47/1

Pleased for Akash Deep, who has bowled superbly. It would have been a bit grim to make it out of his first spell with the memory of that no-ball so fresh in the mind. No mistake this time.


04:46 AM GMT

OVER 9: ENG 46/0 (Crawley 34 Duckett 11)

Jadeja has a slip and a fairly deep silly point for Crawley whis drives for a single then uses his feet to skelp another through midwicket. Duckett has a leg slip to try to stop the fine sweep. Duckett will not be thwarted, goes down to sweep and is hit on the left thigh as he kneels but Kumar Dharmasena, as so often, is proved right. Jadeja was pleading with him, suatining his appeal as if Nathan Lyon, for about 20 seconds. Rohit had to go uspatirs after that, though he did seem doubtful.

Jadeja, crestfallen, makes a gift of the next ball, tossing it wide and Crawley slaps it through cover for four.


04:43 AM GMT

NOT OUT

Umpire’s Call – pitched outside off and it was orange on impact, too.


04:42 AM GMT

India review

 Duckett lbw b Jadeja  Where did it pitch?


04:39 AM GMT

OVER 8: ENG 39/0 (Crawley 32 Duckett 6)

England are incorrigible. Instead of going into their shells because of this difficult pitch, instead of being spooked by that huge inswinger and the sight of his off stump cartwheeling towards Jurel, Crawley tees off.

Duckett defends Deep, probing the infield, until he pierces cover with a drive for two.

Rohit has blinked first and withdraws Siraj after one costly over even though the preceding three gave both batsmen some testing moments.


04:35 AM GMT

OVER 7: ENG 37/0 (Crawley 32 Duckett 4)

Terrific from Crawley, three fours in succession followed by a six off Siraj.

He may well have been out off a bat-pad had Rohit posted a short leg but then creams an off-drive for four, whisks the next two off his legs for two more then flays an on-drive over wide mid-on for six. He holds the pose as if admiring a 280-yard drive off the first tee at the Ryder Cup. Eighteen off the over!

I reckon shot of the tour from Crawley there, picking up Siraj off a length and belting it over mid on for six, similar to one he played to Pat Cummins at Old Trafford last summer. Once again, these two have given England a start, Crawley accelerating with four boundaries in a row. He has had his luck but some excellent strokes too with Crawley showing the importance of not dwelling on playing and missing or fretting about the surface.


04:32 AM GMT

OVER 6: ENG 18/0 (Crawley 14 Duckett 3)

Deep is getting the ball to talk. Just England’s luck that they win the toss and it’s like Trent Bridge out there ... for now. Crawley is beaten on inside- and outside-edge but ends the over with a streaky boundary, his second, flying at catchable height through vacant gully off a flashing drive. Crawley is going to live by the sword and play some shots. Nothing new there, though.

Ravi Shastri suggests the pitch might have a bit of mositure in it aiding the bounce. Not much consolation if it cracks even more when it dries out

Keep a tab of the number of wickets lost through drag-ons in this Test. The inconsistent bounce will surely lead to a few batsmen inside edging into their stumps. So there are dragons in this pitch!


04:25 AM GMT

OVER 5: ENG 13/0 (Crawley 10 Duckett 3)

Crawley is beaten by another nip-backer that crashes into his front pad above the knee. Big appeal but too high. Siraj is getting the ball to veer in alarmongly with wobble seam, But then he strays too full and Crawley drives through mid-off for four. It wasn’t as sweet as most of his offside shots but a very welcome release from  this unrelenting interrogation.

Wow! What a moment. Akash Deep – who has plenty of Mohammed Shami about him, and is bowling beautifully – bowls Crawley with one that stays down a bit. Spectacular cartwheeling stump, and a doleful look back from Crawley. But it’s a no-ball! Ben Stokes and Mark Wood also lost their first Test wicket to no-balls...


04:22 AM GMT

A test for England on testing pitch

It will be interesting to see how the Bazballers play on a tricky day one pitch. The uneven bounce and two paced nature of this surface will make it difficult to play their shots. Generally, they have thrived on good surfaces and I can’t think of a pitch like this since Stokes took over. South Africa beat them by an innings on a tricky one at Lord’s but there were also overhead conditions to take into account then.


04:21 AM GMT

OVER 4: ENG 9/0 (Crawley 5 Duckett 3)

Still no short leg despite the impressive bounce from the two quicks. Deep, over the wicket to Crawley, arrows one into the batsman’s thigh-pad as he squares him up and, next ball, gets one to nip back almost though the gate as Crawley drives. The ball scoots off the inside edge down to fine leg for a single.

Duckett loves the feel of bat on ball and slaps a single down to the point sweeper. Crawley ends the over with the beans bouncing. He was gated by a lovely nip-backer that kissed the inside edge and reprieved by the siren.


04:19 AM GMT

Crawley reprieved

And like a certain Ben Stokes is denied a first Test wicket because he overstepped. It was a terrific inswnger that sent off stump carthweeling towards the keeper!


04:18 AM GMT

NOT OUT

No ball!


04:18 AM GMT

Wicket!

Crawley b Deep 4


04:15 AM GMT

OVER 3: ENG 5/0 (Crawley 3 Duckett 2)

Crawley works Siraj off the front foot through mid-on for a single and Duckett cuts hard to deep point – out there early a la Pat Cummins – for another. India are trying hard to squeeze England’s explosive openers. Siraj has three slips and an offside ring saving singles as well as the sweepers. The infield keeps Crawley quiet for a couple of balls with well-placed stops until the right-hander pinches the strike with one that squirts off the inside-edge.


04:12 AM GMT

OVER 2: ENG 2/0 (Crawley 1 Duckett 1)

Depp, a right-arm quick with, as is typical of all India bowlers and most bats, an interesting back story, peppered with tragedy (having lost both his father and elder brother at very young ages), starts from round the wicket to Duckett who defends the first two and tries to tickle the third that is fuller and angles too far across. Jurel makes great ground with a headlong dive to save four byes. England get off the mark at last with Duckett’s slap through cover and Crawley matches him with a clawed off drive as the bottom hand takes over. Deep ends with a jaffa than angles in and nibbles six inches past Duckett’s G&M. Good pace, 140kph which is 87mph.

Akash Deep
Akash Deep makes his Test debut - REUTERS/Amit Dave

04:05 AM GMT

OVER 1: ENG 0/0 (Crawley 0 Duckett 0)

Encouraging bounce from ball one, back of a length and it climbs past Crawley’s hip as it shapes in, too far in. The next ball is fuller, in the channel and Crawley plays and misses, Hmmm. The third is back of a length again and spits up. hitting the tall Crawley on the gloves in frint of his sternum. Must have hit a crack.

The fourth ball is an outswinger that arcs away from Crawley’s bat as he plays and misses again and the opener then leaves two that climb and nibble away outside off . England will be celebrating Bumrah’s absence even more having seen that. This pitch has two faces, both ugly.


04:01 AM GMT

Ben Duckett and Zak Crawley

Walk out. In Duckett’s case, as you would expect, he comes running out like the ferret he is. Mohammed Siraj has first use of the new ball and will presumably share it with the debutant Akash Deep.


03:35 AM GMT

Stokes on the toss

Not giving much away:

The first hour will give us an indication what the pitch will do in the longer term.

England win the toss and bat. Given the team that won the toss won the first three Tests, that seems a good thing. This is not a pitch you would want to bat last on, we hear. However, the pessimistic view is that gives them an opportunity to blow themselves out of this game on day one... Anyway, let’s see.


03:34 AM GMT

Akash Deep makes India debut

Which means the XIs are

ENGLAND Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes (captain), Ben Foakes (wk), Tom Hartley, Ollie Robinson, James Anderson, Shoaib Bashir.

INDIA Rohit Sharma (captain), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Rajat Patidar, Ravindra Jadeja, Sarfaraz Khan, Dhruv Jurel (wk), R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Akash Deep.


03:32 AM GMT

England have won the toss!

And will bat first.


03:30 AM GMT

Team news: England have made two changes

ENGLAND Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes (captain), Ben Foakes (wk), Tom Hartley, Ollie Robinson, James Anderson, Shoaib Bashir.

India have yet to select their XI

But will pick from:

INDIA Rohit Sharma (captain), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Rajat Patidar, Ravindra Jadeja, Sarfaraz Khan, Dhruv Jurel (wk), R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Mukesh Kumar, Akash Deep. KS Bharat (wk), Devdutt Padikkal.


03:29 AM GMT

Breaking news: Rehan Ahmed flies home

Good morning from Ranchi, where it’s a bit cooler than Rajkot, and the pitch is a real unknown.

A bit of news out of the England camp this morning: Rehan Ahmed is going home for personal reasons. An urgent family matter came up yesterday, and he will leave today. He won’t be replaced, which leaves England’s spin stocks at risk should injury strike Tom Hartley or Shoaib Bashir. Ahmed was left out of the XI for this game anyway, having played the first three matches on an eventful tour that also briefly saw him struck down by some visa strife.


03:15 AM GMT

Preview: No Bumrah helps England

Good morning and welcome fellow early risers or both-end candle-burners to the first day of the fourth India vs England Test from Ranchi. Over the course of the series we seem to have flipped from ‘Bazball vincit mundum’ to ‘hang Joe Root’ in little more than three weeks, optimism and equanimity replaced by exasperation and contempt. England have incited joy and rage in equal measure over the past 40 years and even though Ben Stokes, Brendon McCullum and Robert Key have transformed a Test side that looked lost and hopeless in the Caribbean in early 2022 following their dismal Ashes campaign into one that has given this observer more moments of genuine, gob-smacking pleasure over the course of two years than any other, we still cannot resist rushing to judgment mid-series. Not that the players are listening to the condemnation but premature adjudication is still a curse and if they fail in India, I can assure you having sat through miserable nights on subcontinental tours in 2016 and 2021, they have at least had a go and rattled the hosts on occasion. Context still counts.

Anyway, all is not lost. England have fought back against South Africa in 2022 to win the series and were irrepressiible in the final three Tests of the Ashes to secure a draw, which was the least they deserved. They won here in 2012 from one Test down, too, and Stokes, Root and Bairstow, the batting line-up’s engine room, have all shown glimpses in this series, Bairstow in Hyderabad, Root in Rajkot before that shot and Stokes throughout, that they are capable of contributing a match-defining innings. Plus there is no Jasprit Bumrah here.

To do so, I think England will need to win the toss. Bowling fourth on this pitch, using the height of Ollie Robinson and Shoaib Bashir on a cracked and crumbling surface while India try to pull off a run chase, would be the most orthodox path to victory. I was going to write a fourth/fifth day pitch but having seen the photos and read the reports, a three-day Test appears most likely. Which makes the toss even more vital. Win that and the ordeal of taming the mercurial and brilliant Yashasvi Jaiswal and the ominously talented Sarfaraz Khan becomes a little bit easier.

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