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Cricket India v England: Jurel, Ashwin and Kuldeep inspire Ranchi fightback

Cricket India England Ranchi

England’s hopes of forcing a series decider faded dramatically in the face of a stirring India fightback on day three of the fourth Test in Ranchi.

With dogged lower-order resistance and spin bowling of the highest quality, India turned the match on its head. From beginning Sunday 134 behind with only three first-innings wickets in hand, the hosts ended 40-0 in pursuit of 192 to take an unassailable 3-1 lead.

Off-spinner Shoaib Bashir ended with 5-119, at 20 years and 135 days the second-youngest England bowler to claim a five-wicket haul in Test cricket.

England’s lead was a precious 46, every run of which seemed vital as India’s spinners conjured tricks from the surface on a riveting, tension-filled afternoon.

Zak Crawley’s attractive 60 and Jonny Bairstow’s counter-punching 30 were invaluable. No-one else passed 17 in England’s 145, Ravichandran Ashwin magnificent for 5-51 and Kuldeep unerring in his 4-22.

India were given 25 minutes to bat before the close and used them to great effect, scoring at five an over. Captain Rohit Sharma has 24 and Yashasvi Jaiswal 16.

Somehow, England need an instant rally on the fourth morning to keep the series alive.

Series on the line after super Sunday

This was a compelling day of Test cricket, in keeping with what would be most expected of the game in this country: an attritional first innings followed by a rush to the conclusion as the spinners wreak havoc in the second.

For as well as England’s Bashir and Tom Hartley have bowled, India’s slow trio were able to extract so much from the surface.

To the delight of the biggest and noisiest crowd of the Test so far, every ball was an event.

For once, there is an argument to make that England were not aggressive enough. Ben Duckett, Ben Stokes and Bairstow were all victims of tame dismissals. In mitigation, these were the most difficult batting conditions of the tour.

England’s run-rate of 2.69 was comfortably their slowest since Stokes became captain. All except three of the 53.5 overs in their second innings were bowled by India’s spinners, who revelled in the sharp turn and untrustworthy bounce.

England opened with the spin of Joe Root and Hartley, the latter struggling with his line and four times clipped to the boundary by Rohit.

India will start Monday as favourites to wrap up the series, but England will hope they can use the pitch to turn the fifth Test in Dharamsala into a decider.

Cricket India England Ashwin

Jurel digs in

If India do complete the turnaround they owe so much to Jurel, the 23-year-old playing only his second Test and possibly only holding a place behind the stumps until Rishabh Pant returns to fitness.

At 177-7 on Saturday, India could have conceded a huge lead. Jurel and Kuldeep battled to 219-7 overnight, with Jurel resuming on 30 on Sunday.

The early conditions were benign, Robinson again struggled for bite and the eighth-wicket pair added 34 runs before Anderson got Kuldeep to chop on for 28.

England did well to contain the scoring, conceding only two boundaries in the first hour, but the life given to Jurel could prove to be match-defining. A clip off the toes at Bashir should have been held at head-height by Robinson at mid-wicket – India were still 87 behind at the time.

With Deep for company, Jurel farmed the strike and played big shots when given the chance – twice Bashir was hit for six. Deep also swung a six of his own, before Bashir skipped one into the pads to complete his first five-wicket haul in professional cricket.

Jurel continued towards a century, heaving Hartley over the leg-side rope, only to play all around the same man and be bowled 10 runs short of three figures.

‘On that pitch, anything is possible’ – reaction

England bowler Shoaib Bashir on TNT Sports: “I want to dedicate this [five-wicket haul] to my two late grandads who passed away around a year and a half ago, they loved Test cricket and their wish was for me to play. I’m so grateful.

“We’d have liked one or two wickets in that period at the end but we’ve got a big job to do tomorrow. On that pitch, anything is possible.”

India bowler Ravichandran Ashwin on TNT Sports: “I enjoy bowling with the new ball and today was another of those days.

“We showed phenomenal character. Kuldeep was brilliant today. Jurel’s defence was gun and he showed great composure, we were very calm in the dressing room. For just his second Test, he had a great game plan and it gave us a huge lift.”

Former England captain Michael Vaughan: “India have once again found a way of having a dominant day that looks likely to win them this Test and the series.

“England’s bad days are really, really bad – and that looks likely to cost them.”