• Wednesday, April 17, 2024


India ready for turner in fourth Test after Stokes questions pitch

Ben Stokes attends a practice session at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) Stadium in Ranchi on February 22, 2024. (Photo by TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

INDIA said Thursday (22) they are primed for whatever the pitch has in store for the fourth Test but expect it to favour spinners, after England captain Ben Stokes said he “had never seen anything like” the Ranchi wicket.

Rohit Sharma’s hosts are looking to seal the series in the Test beginning on Friday (23) after hammering England by 434 runs to lead 2-1 with two matches to play.

England won the opener in Hyderabad by 28 runs on a turning track but lost the next two.

The surface at Ranchi appears to have deep cracks down one side but looks flat on the other and could spin sharply with variable bounce.

“It’s a typical Indian wicket, there are cracks, this wicket always had cracks,” batting coach Vikram Rathour said.

“It will turn, but how much it will turn and from when we are not sure. We have enough balance in our team to go whichever way we want to go.”

Stokes told British media late Wednesday (21): “I’ve never seen something like that before. I don’t know what could happen.”

On Thursday Stokes said his “overall thinking and understanding” of the wicket had not changed but added that he was keeping an open mind.

“We get asked about the pitch and we give our opinion, but that doesn’t mean we are going in with too many preconceived ideas,” Stokes told reporters.

“The pitch could be as flat as a pancake, who knows? If it is, we will adapt to that.

“If it does more than we think it will, we will adapt to that as well. We won’t let those conversations seep into what we do.”

India’s lead spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and coach Rahul Dravid were at the ground Thursday and took a close look at the wicket.

India’s youngsters and new caps have stood out in the absence of Virat Kohli, who is missing the series for the birth of his second child, and the injured KL Rahul.

Opener Yashasvi Jaiswal, 22, hit an unbeaten 214 in the third Test — his second double century in consecutive matches.

He also put on a destructive 172-run stand with debutant Sarfaraz Khan, who hit 68.

Rathour said the performance of the youngsters showed the ability of India’s robust domestic cricket to promote emerging talent.

“Once you get to this level and start playing Test cricket, everything said and done, there are nerves, there is some pressure, but if you get a good start, nothing better than that,” said Rathour.

“They have cricket intelligence in them, which is again a great sign. It’s a great message, coming from Indian domestic cricket, that the new players are cricket smart.”



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