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India vs England: Ben Stokes has never seen anything like a Ranchi pitch

India vs England: Ben Stokes has never seen anything like a Ranchi pitch

  • Written by Stefan Schimmelt
  • Ranchi's chief cricket writer

video caption, India vs England: Ben Stokes says England will adapt to Ranchi pitch

England captain Ben Stokes says he has never seen anything like the pitch for the fourth Test against India.

The roof at Ranchi has slits running along one side, outside the right hand stump at one end and the left hand stump at the other.

Trailing 2-1 in the series, England need to win the match that starts on Friday to force a crucial fifth Test.

“I've never seen anything like this before. I have no idea so I don't know what could happen,” Stokes said.

“If you looked at one side from two opposite sides, it looked different from what I was used to seeing, especially in India.”

“It looked green and grassy in the changing rooms, but then it looked different: very dark and crumbly and with a fair number of cracks,” added all-rounder Stokes.

England will name their squad on Friday, with a number of options available to them.

James Anderson and Mark Wood played as a fast pair for the first time in the series during the massive 434-run defeat in the third Test in Rajkot.

England spent most of that match on the field in sweltering temperatures, so there is a possibility that neither Anderson nor Wood will be deemed fully fit for Ranchi.

Off-spinner Shoaib Bashir could be recalled after missing the third Test, while Ollie Robinson is an option as the only seamer in his first match for England since the third Ashes Test.

If England think scoring will be too difficult, another alternative would be to lengthen their batting by bringing in Dan Lawrence, who could also offer some part-time.

Image source, Getty Images

Comment on the photo, England must not lose in Ranchi if they are to avoid suffering their first defeat in the series since Ben Stokes took charge

England's selection may be influenced by Stokes himself, who slotted home in training on Wednesday for the first time since undergoing knee surgery in November.

Stokes initially ruled himself out of bowling on this tour, saying he had made a “pinky promise” to England physio Ben Davies.

But after England's defeat in the third Test, the Durham man opened up to the possibility of taking the ball in the final two Tests, saying he had been able to bowl “100%” in training.

The 32-year-old bowled for 35 minutes, then had a long chat with team doctor Glen Ray.

Stokes said his left knee was pain-free during the bowling spell, something that had not happened for “years” and there was a “possible chance” he would bowl during the Test.

“I'll just have to wait and see how it goes,” Stokes said. “It's the longest I've thrown in six months, so let's see how it goes.”

England were criticized after the defeat in Rajkot, their biggest loss in terms of games since 1934.

Now they must not be beaten in either of the final two Tests to avoid a first series defeat under Stokes.

The skipper was not surprised by the reaction to England's defeat by India in the third Test, as the team faced criticism.

“It's a sport, you get plaudits when things are going well, not when things aren't going well. It's part of it, I've been around long enough to know that, but we keep working,” Stokes said.

“Defeats like last week can have a bigger impact on the team as they should. But I'm comfortable with how I've dealt with that – I know the next game is the most important.”

India have rested fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah, leaving 27-year-old Akash Deb in line for his Test debut.

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