Cricket-India target series victory, England make two changes


  • Cricket
  • Thursday, 22 Feb 2024

Cricket - Third Test - India v England - Niranjan Shah Stadium, Rajkot, India - February 17, 2024 India's Mohammed Siraj celebrates with Shubman Gill after taking the wicket of England's Rehan Ahmed REUTERS/Amit Dave/ File photo

RANCHI, India (Reuters) - India will secure a series victory with a win against England in the fourth test beginning in Ranchi on Friday but they must do so without their pace spearhead against a touring side looking to uphold their aggressive style of play.

A 2-1 cushion in the five-match series has allowed India to rest Jasprit Bumrah, the leading wicket-taker of the series, for the match to manage his workload.

With Mohammed Shami missing the series with an ankle injury, the onus is now on Mohammed Siraj to lead India's pace attack. Akash Deep is expected to make his test debut as the second seamer.

India, who have not lost a test series on home soil since defeat by England in 2012, are expected to pick a spin-heavy attack on a pitch that already has cracks at both ends.

Middle order batter KL Rahul, who injured his thigh in the opening test in Hyderabad, has not recovered yet but India will take heart from Sarfaraz Khan's twin fifties in his debut test in Rajkot.

Wicketkeeper Dhruv Jurel, who also made his debut in Rajkot, struck a fluent 46 to prove he is no dud with the bat either.

"The youngsters are really smart, which is a great news for us," India batting coach Vikram Rathour told reporters on Thursday.

"Of course, our domestic cricket is so strong that you are pretty assured that only quality players are coming through.

"We are missing some key players but a home series is always a good opportunity for the young talents to play in familiar conditions and establish themselves in the side."

AGGRESSIVE APPROACH

Smarting from their defeat by 434 runs in Rajkot, England have brought in seamer Ollie Robinson and spinner Shoaib Bashir, replacing Mark Wood and Rehan Ahmed.

The shellacking also prompted questions about England's ultra-aggressive approach, which many feel borders on recklessness.

England captain Ben Stokes, who is tipped to resume bowling in this match following knee surgery last November, has brushed aside the backlash.

The look of the pitch in Ranchi was a greater concern for the 32-year-old as he plots ways to keep England alive in the series.

"I've never seen something like that before. I have got no idea so I don't know what could happen," Stokes told British media.

"It looked green and grassy up in the changing rooms but then you go out there it looked different: very dark and crumbly and quite a few cracks in it."

(This story has been corrected to say fourth test in paragraph 1)

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

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