Jurel, Ashwin and Kuldeep put India in command against England

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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.

They were dragged to 307 by Dhruv Jurel’s 90. The wicketkeeper, crucially dropped on 59 by Ollie Robinson, added 76 with Kuldeep Yadav and another 40 with number 10 Akash Deep.

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. (BBC Sport)

 

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