India v England Fourth Test Tips: England can hit back on Ranchi rager

Ben Stokes
Stokes could bowl in the fourth Test

Ed Hawkins says there are early signs that the wicket for game four could reduce the gap between the teams from Friday...

  • No Bumrah for hosts

  • Advantage batting first

  • All-round Stokes

  • India v England
    Friday 23 February
    , 04.00
    TV: Live on TNT

    India v England Fourth Test team news

    India are feeling pretty chuffed with themselves. Stripped of key players like Virat Kohli, KL Rahul and Ravi Jadeja for periods in the series (Kohli for its entirety) and helping Ravi Ashwin manage personal issues, they have done well to lead 2-1.

    It's slightly surprising that they have rested Jasprit Bumrah for two reasons; one, that the series is still very much alive and two it indicates a rank turner. They don't need that sort of wicket.

    If it is expected to turn Axar Patel could come back into the side and at the same time lengthen the batting. Otherwise Mohammad Siraj could be joined by pacer Mukesh Kumar.

    Possible XI: Jaiswal, Rohit, Gill, Jadeja, Patidar, Sarfaraz, Axar, Jurel, Ashwin, Kuldeep, Siraj

    England have publicly backed Jonny Bairstow so eyebrows would have been raised to the heavens if he had been axed.

    Ollie Pope's assertion that Ben Stokes could return to all-round duties remains in doubt. If he was going to bowl they may have added batting depth in the form of Dan Lawrence.

    Instead they have a revamped bowling attack. Ollie Robinson and Shoaib Bashir are in for Mark Wood and Rehan Ahmed respectively.

    Named XI: Crawley, Duckett, Pope, Root, Stokes, Bairstow, Foakes, Hartley, Robinson, Bashir, Anderson

    India v England Fourth Test pitch report

    There have been only two Tests played in Ranchi. There was a run-laden draw in 2017 between the hosts and Australia. In 2019 South Africa were thrashed by an innings. But it was not death by tweak. The wickets were split 50/50 between pace and spin.

    That has been the theme for Ranji Trophy matches, too. It rewarded pace and spin in the most recent outing last month.

    The complication, of course, is Bumrah's absence. Surely they wouldn't 'rest' him if they felt there was pace here? Of course it could be kidology and he is, in fact, injured.

    Pope has said the surface has cracks on it and had been watered. That could mean ground staff are desperately trying to keep it from breaking up too soon. "It's an interesting pitch," he said, "won't necessarily be a belter."

    We await a closer look but going extreme unders is an early thought of a possible strategy. There could be some very cheap lays indeed at 180-200 for both teams in first digs. We also suggest potential bets of a finish in the first three days.

    India v England Fourth Test match odds

    England will feel that a turning wicket has them bang in the game. They may also reckon the toss is taken out of the equation. They may only be half right.

    As we have said from before ball one in this series, England need to bat first and hope for a a wicket which deteriorates enough to make anything over 180 devilishly difficult to get after in the fourth.

    That sort of surface helps them reduce the skills gap between their bowlers and India's, which is the real reason they find themselves 2-1 down. It is not because of their Bazball approach which they would be utterly foolish to abandon.

    Presumably any time England take a beating, it's efficacy will be questioned. There have been some 'sages' who have argued it is a failure. If having the best win-loss ratio of any side (and the most Test wins) since it's induction is failure, Lord knows what would satisfy the critics.

    if England bat first and go hard with the bat then they can put India under pressure. Despite the record defeat in Rajkot, England were twice in the ascendancy. They can be more competitive with the toss caveat.

    There has been a gamble on England. They're into 3.8514/5 which is likely hold now. But we could still get 3.309/4 if they bat first. India are 1.528/15. if they bat first it's Goodnight Vienna for the tourists

    Back England batting first @ 3.309/4

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