Cricket-England's Stokes stands by 'Bazball' despite India shellacking


  • Cricket
  • Sunday, 18 Feb 2024

Cricket - Third Test - India v England - Niranjan Shah Stadium, Rajkot, India - February 18, 2024 England's Ben Stokes in action REUTERS/Amit Dave

RAJKOT, India (Reuters) - One of England's heaviest test defeats could not shake Ben Stokes's conviction in their high-risk approach and the touring skipper believes they can still win the five-test series in India.

England's bold tactics under Stokes and coach Brendon 'Baz' McCullum have revitalised test cricket and India, who have not lost a test series on home soil since 2012, were always going to be a litmus test of that philosophy.

India crushed England by 434 runs, their biggest win in terms of runs, in the third match in Rajkot to go 2-1 up in the series but Stokes will not abandon 'Bazball' yet despite criticism that it borders on recklessness.

"Everyone has an opinion or a perception of things but the people in the dressing room really matter to us," Stokes said after the chastening loss on Sunday.

"We know things don't always work out exactly how you want them to. We are 2-1 down and have a chance to win 3-2.

"We will leave this game behind us. We have to win the next two to win the series and that's what we will be trying to do."

Debates have raged about poor shot selection by the England batters, including Joe Root whose ill-advised reverse scoop triggered a collapse in their first innings.

Replying to India's first innings 445, England were 224-4 before being all out for 319. The tourists managed 122 in their second innings chasing a record 557.

"It was about identifying the opportunity to push the scoreboard on and get as close to India's total as possible," Stokes said of their first innings.

"Sometime game-plans don't work out, that's just sport."

They got a taste of their own medicine as India opener Yashasvi Jaiswal clobbered 12 sixes in his blistering unbeaten 214.

Home hero Ravindra Jadeja, however, pipped Jaiswal to the player-of-the-match award because of his match-haul of seven wickets to go with his first innings hundred.

India captain Rohit Sharma said he never lost faith in his bowlers even after Ben Duckett led England's reply with a scintillating 153 on day two.

"Test cricket is not played over two days or three days. We understand the importance of staying in the game," said Rohit, who top scored for India in the first innings with 131.

"England played well and put us under pressure but we have class bowlers and the message was to stay calm.

"It is easy to drift away from what you do as a team but I am really proud of how we came back."

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Ken Ferris)

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